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Johnny Mac was feeling it after leading Team World to its second straight victory over Team Europe in the Laver Cup.
“It felt unbelievable to kick their ass, baby,” McEnroe, the Team World captain, told fans in Vancouver, British Columbia after Team World dominated Team Europe 13-2. “Yeah! They’ve kicked ours many times.”
Led by teams that featured Laver Cup founder Roger Federer, Team Europe won the first three incarnations of the event from 2017-19. After a break in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Team Europe dominated in 2021 in Boston, 14-1, with a team that did not include Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic.
Last season’s event at the 02 Arena in London featured Federer’s emotional farewell as he played doubles with Nadal, but Team World won for the first time, 13-8, despite both Nadal and Djokovic also playing.
This year’s Team Europe did not include any members of the ‘Big 3’ — and didn’t have a single player with a Grand Slam title — and was slaughtered by a Team World group led by four Americans ranked in the world’s Top 20: No. 8 Taylor Fritz, No. 11 Frances Tiafoe, No. 14 Tommy Paul and No. 19 Ben Shelton.
“Team World played unbelievable tennis, every single match,” said Team Europe captain Bjorn Borg, McEnroe’s primary rival in the late 1970s and early ‘80s.
The win for Team World backed up an impressive showing by the Americans at the U.S. Open. Five Americans — three men and two women — reached at least the quarterfinals of their home Slam, with Coco Gauff winning her maiden Grand Slam title and Shelton reaching the semifinals.
“It’s just really exciting tennis for America,” Gauff said at the Open. “I hope that the fans are excited and happy with it.”
Shelton, 20, won his singles match on Friday at the Laver Cup and then won doubles match on Saturday and Sunday with two different partners, Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada and Tiafoe on Sunday.
After winning the doubles with Tiafoe, Shelton pulled his signature hang up the phone move which he showcased during the Open.
Tennis legend Rod Laver, the last man to win the calendar Grand Slam (1969 after winning it in ‘62), predicted on social media that Shelton would win a major title before long.
“We’re going to see him winning a Slam, he’s got one of the biggest serves, a big left-hander,” Laver said of Shelton. “He doesn’t make many mistakes. He sees an opening and he goes for it.”
Next year’s Laver Cup will return to European soil in Berlin and Federer would like to see the team amp up its roster by adding Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz and 24-time major champion Djokovic so McEnroe can’t taunt them again.
“I’d like to see Novak again,” Federer said. “Actually, I’d love to see Alcaraz and Novak on the same team. I’d love to see that happen.”