World No. 5 Andrey Rublev made a winning Laver Cup debut in Boston on Friday night, though it was anything but easy, as he had to battle back from the brink of defeat to make it past Diego Schwartzman in a match tie-break, 4-6, 6-3, 11-9.
The win put Team Europe ahead 3-0. Earlier, Casper Ruud beat Reilly Opelka, 6-3, 7-6 (4), and Matteo Berrettini edged Felix Auger-Aliassime, 6-7 (3), 7-5, 10-8.
“With these rules, with a third set super tie-break, you never know what’s going to happen, and today we’re a bit more lucky,” Rublev said after his one-hour, 50-minute victory over Schwartzman. “Matteo won a tough match in a super tie-break against Felix, and now you just saw my match, it was so close, and Diego was leading all through the super tie-break, but in the end I found a way to win, and it happens.
“This is tennis, this is sport—someone has to win, someone has to lose.”
Things looked dire for Rublev in the match tie-break—he found himself down 6-2, and though he managed to catch up to 6-5, Schwartzman stretched his lead again to 8-5, just two points from the win. But Rublev saved his best tennis for last, winning four points in a row to bring up his first match point at 9-8, and though he double faulted on that one, he eventually closed it out on his second match point after a wild 24-shot rally that ended with a forehand volley winner down the line from the Russian.