Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic looked quite comfortable while playing together for the first time Friday night.
Except for one particular point.
Djokovic drilled Federer in the lower back with a forehand in the third game of their doubles match against Kevin Anderson and Jack Sock in the Laver Cup. Djokovic covered his mouth with his left hand and leaned over after the ball went off his partner.
“I apologized right away,” Djokovic said. “It didn’t look that great.”
Federer didn’t seem to mind that much.
“To team up with somebody of his caliber is just a treat you know,” he said.
Federer and Djokovic took the first set 7-6 in a tiebreaker, but Sock and Anderson won the second set 6-3 and then captured the deciding tiebreaker 10-6 to give Team World its lone win on the first day of the exhibition.
Federer and Djokovic last played against each other in the Cincinnati final on Aug. 19, when Djokovic won 6-4, 6-4. But the stars had never played on the same side of the net before Friday night at the United Center.
Federer took the forehand side and Djokovic the backhand against the hard-serving Anderson and doubles standout Sock.
“It was a lot of fun. I want to thank Roger for playing with me,” Djokovic said. “I loved it. Obviously I wanted to win as much as Roger. But those guys came up with some big shots.”
Team Europe won the first three matches of the day. David Goffin edged Diego Schwartzman 6-4, 4-6, 11-9; Kyle Edmund beat Sock 6-4, 5-7, 10-6; and Grigor Dimitrov downed Frances Tiafoe 6-1, 6-4.
US Open champ Osaka advances to Pan Pacific Open final
Naomi Osaka relied on a dominant serve to reach the final of the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo on Saturday with a comfortable 6-2, 6-3 win over Camila Giorgi.
The U.S. Open champion, who upset Serena Williams in the final in New York, overpowered her unseeded opponent and will face fourth-seeded Karolina Pliskova in Sunday’s final.
Third-seeded Osaka fired nine aces and dropped just eight points in eight service games.
“My serve got me out of a lot of trouble today,” said Osaka. “She was playing really well and my serve helped me. I was a bit nervous because I really wanted to reach the final.”
Two years ago, Osaka lost in the final to Caroline Wozniacki, this year’s top-seeded player who was eliminated by Giorgi on Thursday.
Having not dropped a set over the course of her week, Osaka will next face a player who has needed three dramatic sets in each of her matches to reach her second final of the season.
Pliskova had to dig deep again to beat Donna Vekic 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in Saturday’s other semifinal.
Tomljanovic ends Hsieh’s win streak
Ajla Tomljanovic has ended Hsieh Su-wei’s eight-match winning streak with a 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 win over the Taiwanese player on Saturday at the Korea Open.
Hsieh won last week’s Japan Women’s Open at Hiroshima and the first three rounds in Seoul.
In Sunday’s final, Tomljanovic will play second-seeded Kiki Bertens, who beat No. 3 Maria Sakkari 6-4, 6-2 in an earlier semifinal Saturday.