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McEnroe: Brave New World Coming

By Richard Pagliaro | Sunday, September 25, 2022

Pained by four gut-wrenching Laver Cup losses, captain John McEnroe went Mad World mode.

Facing a European dream team and a dire 8-4 deficit, Team World answered the call with unity and ferocity after a barrage of F-bombs from their captain.

A fierce Frances Tiafoe fought off four match points and played a pair of tremendous tiebreakers stunning Stefanos Tsitsipas 1-6, 7-6(11), 10-8 to clinch Team World's maiden Laver Cup championship in an exhilarating eruption of emotion at the O2 Arena in London.

"Unbelievable—unbelievable feeling," Tiafoe told Jason Goodall in his on-court interview. "Our captain, Johnny Mac was tired of losing. He was dropping a lot of F-bombs saying we needed to get it done this year, his fifth try.

"I kept saying all week that this was our year. Guys showed up. Felix beat Novak today Jack and Felix also played unbelievable doubles today. We all did it together. It wasn't just me, we all did it together. I showed a lot of heart to get it done. This was big. We're gonna celebrate it big time."

In an inspired Sunday sweep, Team World played with purpose and passion rallying for a 13-8 victory.

It started with Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jack Sock stopping Matteo Berrettini and Andy Murray. Then Auger-Aliassime played with controlled aggression shocking former world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who seemed to be pained by a wrist issue, 6-3, 7-6(3), setting the stage for Tiafoe's heroics. 

When it comes to winning championships, it's courage that counts.

In prior years Team World came achingly close, but often flinched facing Grand Slam champions on an experienced Team Europe.

Throughout this weekend's tie, Team World played fearless tennis with Tiafoe and Sock both buzzing crackling forehands right at legends Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal saving a match point to beat the iconic champions in Federer's farewell on Friday night.

Asked tonight if he'd apologize for nailing Federer in the arm with one forehand, Tiafoe shot that suggestion down.

"No, I won't apologize, but I will say thank you for having me in this amazing event, you know, what he's done for the game, also say thank you for what he did for the game," Tiafoe said of Federer. "He's a class act. Happy to know him, happy to call him friend, happy to call him a colleague, and best wishes in his second act. But I will not apologize."

Hall of Famer McEnroe predicts a brave new world that will see Team World players, including Auger-Aliassime and Tiafoe, step up and produce this kind of magic at majors.

"Listen, I got news for you. These guys are going to step up big time in the future, not just here," McEnroe said. "It's going to be incredible the next five years. Not just for Team World but for these individuals as well.

"So just proud that I was part of that. It's absolutely awesome. That's all I can say."

Today, Tiafoe embraced the moment producing some wildly-entertaining points with Tsitsipas.

Big Foe said afterward he tried to create "a circus" and did just that hurling huge fist pumps, exhorting fans to make more noise—and they did even chanting "Tiafoe! Tiafoe! at one point—and trash-talking too.

"Way to battle," captain McEnroe told Tiafoe after a hard-fought hold for a 3-2 second-set lead over the athletic Greek.

"Hold that Greek yogurt!" a fired up Tiafoe barked back.

After four bitter finals losses, McEnroe was sucking down champagne as if were Gatorade afterward and showering his players with praise and champagne showers for their grit. 

"We've been beat up a few times. We've been so close we can taste it," McEnroe said in his on-court interview. "This is a great young group of guys we have here.

"We kept battling. It looked like we were in trouble.... To have it end this way I just want to say this guys are the best thank you very much. I love everybody baby!"

Photo credit: Getty for Laver Cup