Team World commenced their Laver Cup title defence in impressive fashion on Friday, securing four victories in the opening session of the prestigious team tennis event.
Newcomers Ben Shelton and Francisco Cerundolo, along with fan-favourite Felix Auger-Aliassime, led the charge to put Team World ahead 4-0 against Team Europe.
Ben Shelton, a US Open semi-finalist representing the United States, set the tone with a resilient performance, defeating Team Europe's Arthur Fils of France with a scoreline of 7-6 (7/4), 6-1. His tenacity and composure allowed Team World to take an early lead.
Argentina's Francisco Cerundolo continued Team World's winning streak by clinching a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain, marking the first time Team World had led after the opening session in Laver Cup history.
Felix Auger-Aliassime, renowned for his crucial win against Novak Djokovic last year, opened the night session with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over French veteran Gael Monfils. However, their match was not without tension, as Auger-Aliassime expressed his frustration with Monfils' lighthearted approach to the game. Auger-Aliassime's determination to maintain the competitive spirit of the match led to a few heated exchanges.
Despite a spirited effort from Monfils, Auger-Aliassime's consistent play and composure ultimately secured the win, and the two competitors shared a hug at the conclusion of their match.
Reflecting on the intense moments during the match, Auger-Aliassime stated, "Things get tense on the court sometimes. You try your best to stay cool but at the same time to stand up for yourself."
The day began with a strong performance from Ben Shelton, the 20-year-old rising star who recently reached the semi-finals of the US Open and is now ranked 19th in the world. Shelton's energy and determination played a crucial role in setting the tone for Team World.
John McEnroe, Team World's captain, expressed his satisfaction with the team's strong start, saying, "Obviously we came in with guns blazing."
Team World is aiming to defend their Laver Cup title for the first time after Europe claimed victory in the event's first four editions. However, Team World secured a historic win in London last year, highlighted by the farewell doubles appearances of tennis legends Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Federer, who was in attendance at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, received a warm ovation from the crowd as the teams captained by John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg were introduced.
The matches on Friday were worth one point each, but the stakes will increase over the weekend, with Saturday's matches worth two points and Sunday's worth three. The first team to accumulate 13 points will emerge as the victor in the Laver Cup.