In theory, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are the dream doubles pairing – but tragedy struck just nine minutes into their Laver Cup fixture.
Federer sent tennis fans around the world into a frenzy earlier in the week, announcing he would team up with Djokovic on the same side of the net for the very first time.
But the Swiss master may have got more than he bargained for, after Djokovic sent a powerful forehand directly into his back.
The incident lead to a chorus of laughter from the crowd, and commentators believe it was unintentional from the Serbian star.
“That was the first chance Djokovic had to get him,” said one commentator.
“I don’t think he did that on purpose, he was a little bit late on the forehand and he almost took his teammate out.”
Evidently it was an accident, with Djokovic’s reaction saying it all.
The hilarious moment summed up a quality day of tennis on day one of the event in Chicago – and the fans loved it.
“That will be an image that goes around the world,” said commentator Todd Woodbridge.
— Arjun (@ManlikeUnitedd) September 22, 2018
In an era where All Star Games have been genuinely diluted, it’s pretty dang fun – and special – to see Federer and Djokovic play doubles together.
— Jason Gay (@jasongay) September 22, 2018
— Chris Westfall (@imChrisWestfall) September 22, 2018
Isn't it weird how Djoković and Federer are actually a somewhat decent doubles team? Of all the possibilities, I didn't really see that one.
— Matt Kriz (@2ndServeHack) September 22, 2018
Federer and Djokovic were playing for Team Europe, while Sock and Anderson were competing for Team World in the Ryder Cup-style event.
“We have had so many great battles in all the singles courts, and to finally team up together I think is going to be very special for both of us,” Federer said on Friday.
“I think we still have to talk over it a little bit exactly maybe either who’s going to take the lead or, you know, how do we play exactly.”
Despite winning the first set, Djokovic and Federer were sadly unable to get the job done over Team World.
The pairing of Jack Sock and Kevin Anderson were too strong for the Europeans, prevailing in a tie-break after claiming the second set and storming home.
Asked about the matchup with Federer and Djokovic, Sock cracked: “Who’s that?”
Europe lead World 3-1 in Laver Cup
In the third singles match of the day, the Belgian helped the defending champions take an early lead over Team World with a 6-4 4-6 11-9 win over the Argentine.
Earlier, Britain’s Kyle Edmund regained command in a tiebreaker before beating American Jack Sock as Team Europe took a 2-0 lead.
Edmund’s 6-4 5-7 10-6 victory followed Grigor Dimitrov’s 6-1 6-4 win over Frances Tiafoe of Team World in the opener at the United Centre.
Edmund broke Sock’s service to capture the first set 6-4. Sock, who came out to warm up wearing a Chicago Bulls jersey over his shirt, fought back and broke Edmund to go up 6-5 in the second set before serving it out as the crowd came alive.
Edmund then raced to a 7-2 lead in the 10-point tiebreaker that is used in the Laver Cup when the first two sets are split.
Sock was to play doubles later Friday with Kevin Anderson against Team Europe’s star pairing of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
Dimitrov had 13 winners and two service breaks to win the first set 6-1, finishing it off with one of his five opening-set aces.
Tiafoe was a late replacement for Juan Martin del Potro on Team World.
The 20-year-old American played in the Davis Cup semi-finals last weekend in Croatia, losing the deciding match in five sets to Borna Coric.
He played much tougher in the second set on Friday against Dimitrov, getting a service break for 4-4 before Dimitrov broke back and served out the victory in a match that featured extended baseline rallies.
The final doubles match between Federer-Djokovic and Sock-Anderson was decided by a tie-break, with Team World prevailing winners.