Federer Laver Cup fill-in, Berrettini, beats Auger-Aliassime
Team Europe's Matteo Berrettini, of Italy, celebrates with Roger Federer of Switzerland, after winning a match against Team World's Felix Auger-Aliassime, of Canada, on second day of the Laver Cup tennis tournament at the O2 in London, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press
Published Saturday, September 24, 2022 1:27PM EDT
LONDON (AP) — Filling in for the retired Roger Federer at the Laver Cup, 2021 Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini put Team Europe back in front by edging Team World's Felix Auger-Aliassime of Montreal 7-6 (11), 4-6, 10-7 on Saturday.
Federer closed his career at the team event founded by his management company on Friday night. The 20-time Grand Slam champion's last match came in doubles alongside longtime rival Rafael Nadal, a loss to Team World's Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock.
Federer stuck around, though, and helped Berrettini by offering coaching advance during Saturday's opening singles match.
Berrettini, a 26-year-old from Italy, originally was listed as an alternate on Team Europe, and it was clear he would step in for Federer, who said he ran his plan to bow out after doubles past the ATP and the team captains, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe.
Like Federer, Nadal withdrew from the three-day competition following their doubles contest.
Nadal's wife is supposed to give birth to their first child soon.
Nadal, who holds the men's record of 22 major titles, also has been dealing with injuries all season, including a torn abdominal muscle, but said he wanted to take part in Federer's farewell.
“For me, it was important, because I knew it was important to him,” said Nadal, who cried along with Federer after their doubles match Friday.
Berrettini's victory put Team Europe ahead 4-2, before Nadal's replacement, Cam Norrie, faced Taylor Fritz in the second singles match on Day 2.
The most-anticipated matches were to follow during the night session, with the return to competition of Novak Djokovic, who has not played since winning Wimbledon in July for his 21st Grand Slam trophy.
Djokovic, a 35-year-old from Serbia, could not enter the U.S. Open because he was not allowed to fly to the United States as a foreign citizen who has not been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Djokovic was slated to do double duty Saturday, facing U.S. Open semifinalist Tiafoe in singles, before partnering with Berrettini against Sock and Alex de Minaur in doubles.