Roger Federer has been denied a fairytale farewell at the Laver Cup after Frances Taifoe guided Team World to their maiden triumph at the event in London.
Tiafoe proved the pantomime villain for a second time at the Laver Cup, with his epic comeback against Stefanos Tsitsipas on Sunday denying Federer one final trophy before his retirement.
Tiafoe and Jack Sock combined to beat Federer and Rafa Nadal in the Swiss legend’s final match on Friday, and Tiafoe was again the source of Federer’s heartache on Sunday.
A 1-6 7-6 (13-11) 10-8 victory for the US Open semi-finalist in the 11th match of the Ryder Cup-style team competition helped Team World to their first triumph in the event’s fifth edition.
Tiafoe saved four match points against Tsitsipas, with his remarkable win taking John McEnroe’s team to the magic 13-point mark on a dramatic and thrilling Sunday at the O2 Arena, where they claimed a maiden Laver Cup triumph by a 13-8 scoreline.
Going into the third and final day of the competition, Federer still had hopes of adding one more title to his illustrious CV with Team Europe leading 8-4.
The 41-year-old withdrew from the event after his doubles match due to issues with his knee, but was on hand to help coach his teammates throughout the rest of the tournament.
But Felix Auger-Aliassime had other ideas for Team World.
After success over Andy Murray and Matteo Berrettini in the doubles alongside Sock, the Canadian followed it up with an even better display in the second match.
Auger-Aliassime stunned Novak Djokovic 6-3 7-6 (7-3) to claw Team World back from the brink and put them one win away from the silverware.
It was over to Tiafoe to complete the job, but he lost the first set in 21 minutes to Tsitsipas.
Howeve the Greek couldn’t maintain his charge, and after a marathon tie-breaker for the second set it meant a decider was required.
During the 10-point tie-breaker, Tiafoe held his nerve to help Team World make history.
“Unbelievable, unbelievable feeling. Our captain Jonny Mac was tired of losing,” he said.
“I kept saying all week that this is our year. Guys showed up. Felix beat Novak, Jack and Felix also played unbelievable doubles and it wasn’t just me.
“We all showed up. I just kept going and this is big. We’ll celebrate big tonight.”
Auger-Aliassime’s victory was his first against any of the big three and he was understandably delighted.
“It felt great, for sure. You know, one of my best wins so far in my career. To back it up after the doubles, it was super important,” he said.
Roger Federer bows out with loss at Laver Cup
Federer once again addressed the crowd to bring down the curtain on the event and his magical career.
“I was very confident going into today but well done Johnny Mac and the rest of the team for incredible play today, you deserve it,” he said.
“My team has been fantastic, I’ve enjoyed every minute. It’s been great, it’s been a little bit emotional at times.
“But I recovered, the team has recovered; I hope I didn’t make the team lose, but I had a wonderful time and I can’t thank you enough for that.
“I’m looking forward to next year [in Vancouver], I’ll be there too and supporting both teams from a different position.”
The 41-year-old said in a post-event press conference: “Of course I’m disappointed. I was on the team, almost lost my voice and my hands hurt from clapping.
“We wish the result would be different. I told Andy (Murray) in the locker room, I don’t like losing. It’s not fun. It just leaves not the best taste, you know. I think once you have been there and taste success, it’s just not the same.
“I hope tonight can be still somewhat of an enjoyable evening. Of course this weekend has been all over the place for me. I enjoyed it, but it’s unfortunate that we couldn’t get the win.”
Tennis fans were gutted for Federer that he couldn’t bow out a winner, expressing their sadness that they’ll never see him play professionally ever again.