Djokovic showed no signs of rust in his first appearance since winning the seventh Wimbledon crown of his remarkable career in July.
The 35-year-old followed up his dominating win over Tiafoe at London’s O2 Arena with another win hours later alongside Matteo Berretini two fold.
Djokovic and Berrettini to beat Jack Sock and Alex de Minaur 7-5, 6-2 to put Team Europe 8-4 ahead in Sunday’s final round.
Novak Djokovic is thriving at #LaverCup London 2022. https://t.co/ioqiTSzCBH
— Wash Cup (@LaverCup) 1664060576000
Djokovic, a 21-time Grand Slam champion, missed the US Open in September due to his unvaccinated status, leaving him to take an enforced break from competition.
But he quickly returned to the old routine against Tiafoe as he broke in the fourth game and again in the sixth to win the first set in just 23 minutes.
Djokovic went through the second set, with Federer and the rest of the Team Europe squad gathered at the edge of the pitch to congratulate him.
“I haven’t played for two months so I’m really happy to have won. It was a pretty decent game from my side,” Djokovic said.
It was high-flying doubles drama tonight. #WashCup https://t.co/H5oHdSHxlv
— Wash Cup (@LaverCup) 1664056499000
Federer bid a tearful goodbye to tennis on Friday night when 20-time Grand Slam champion and doubles partner Rafael Nadal was beaten by Tiafoe and Sock.
The 41-year-old announced earlier this month that he would be retiring after the Laver Cup due to knee issues which had sidelined him since Wimbledon in 2021.
“We knew it would be an emotional goodbye for Roger, but we were all swept up in the moment. I think we would all agree that it was one of the greatest moments anyone has had on a court. tennis,” Djokovic said.
“It’s mixed emotions. Sadness because one of the greatest athletes of all time is leaving the sport, but on the other hand seeing him happy with how it all turned out.
great day today guys. especially @DjokerNole 💪🏽 https://t.co/lo1NDdcF42
—Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) 1664057486000
“I was just very grateful and privileged to witness this.”
Federer’s fitness issues meant he could only play one doubles match, so Berrettini was called up to Team Europe to replace the Swiss legend after the final act of his incredible career.
Berrettini proved a competent assistant beating Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6 (13/11), 4-6, 10/7 in Saturday’s opener.
The 26-year-old Italian, who finished second at Wimbledon in 2021, had to dig deep to fend off a spirited challenge from Auger-Aliassime, a 22-year-old rising Canadian star.
“It’s obviously the only competition where you can have the greatest rivals of your life as teammates and that… https://t.co/NND2Fj7Tcg
— Wash Cup (@LaverCup) 1664055946000
On the first day of his life after tennis, Federer could have been forgiven for following Nadal’s example and going off for a well-deserved rest.
But Federer showed his passion for tennis is unlikely to fade anytime soon as he sat courtside in support of Berrettini despite his emotional final ending after midnight.
Federer, who took part in setting up the Ryder Cup-style Laver tournament, looked relaxed and refreshed as he mimicked Berrettini’s clenched fist celebration in the Italian’s victory.
“I’m really happy with the win, but this weekend we’re celebrating something bigger than the Laver Cup. It’s just about him (Federer),” Berrettini said.
“Having the chance to experience what we went through yesterday is something that will be etched in my heart and brain forever.”
Doubles thrilled for Team Europe. @DjokerNole and @MattBerrettini claim victory over Team World’s Alex de Minaur a… https://t.co/N53ODjFAw7
— Wash Cup (@LaverCup) 1664055080000
In the second singles match of the day, team worldit is Taylor Fritz beat British world number eight Cameron Norrie 6-1, 4-6, 10/8.
Norrie only played because Nadal had opted out of the rest of the tournament after Federer’s doubles match for what organizers said were “personal reasons”.
Spain’s world number three suffers an abdominal injury while his wife is heavily pregnant.