Team Europe take 3-1 Laver Cup lead

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Matteo Berrettini, Casper Ruud and Andrey Rublev have given Team Europe a 3-1 lead over Team World to get the pandemic-delayed fourth edition of the Laver Cup underway.

Italy's Berrettini, the runner-up to Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon in July, saved 12 of 13 break points before coming back to edge Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime in a tiebreaker 6-7 (7-3) 7-5 10-8.

That came after Norway's Ruud broke American Reilly Opelka in their third game and again to end the opening set, on his way to a 6-3 7-6 (7-4) victory on a hard court at the arena used by the NBA's Celtics and NHL's Bruins.

During the night session, Russian Rublev edged Diego Schwartzman in another match tiebreaker 4-6 6-3 11-9 to put Team Europe ahead 3-0, before American John Isner and Canadian Denis Shapovalov put Team World on the board by defeating Alexander Zverev and Berrettini 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 10-1 in Friday's doubles match.

A team must reach 13 points to win the three-day competition. Each match victory is worth one point on Friday, two on Saturday and three on Sunday.

Opelka, whose game is built on his big serve and forehand, said afterward the setup "suits him better than me" and described it as "slow and dead."

"It's the slowest conditions I've ever played in, the combo of the court and the ball," Opelka said.

Ruud acknowledged that worked to his advantage, as did what he said were bits of sand on the court that made it slippery.

"It's fairly slow," Ruud said about the court, "and his serve, I felt, wasn't that fast today as it maybe usually is, because of the surface and also the balls, the way they get after three or four games."

Team Europe have won all three Laver Cups so far but for the first time are without Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic.

All three share the men's record with 20 grand slam titles apiece but Djokovic is coming off a run to the final of the US Open while Federer and Nadal are done for the season because of injuries.

Federer was seated courtside on Friday to watch Rublev beat Schwartzman of Argentina.

Boston was supposed to host the Laver Cup last year but it was postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

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