Paul Leads USA, Coric & Thiem In Action In Davis Cup Matches To Watch
Last week, Tommy Paul enjoyed the best run of his career at the Australian Open, where he reached his maiden Grand Slam semi-final. The 25-year-old is looking to maintain his momentum this week in the 2023 Davis Cup Qualifiers, where he leads the United States against Uzbekistan.
Paul takes on the host nation's No. 2 Khumoyun Sultanov in his opening singles match on Friday in Tashkent after his countryman Mackenzie McDonald opens against Uzbekistan's top player Sergey Fomin. The singles matchups will then be reversed on Saturday afternoon, after the solitary doubles match of the best-of-five-rubbers tie, with the winner qualifying for September’s Davis Cup Finals Group Stage.
Sultanov is ranked No. 480 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and Fomin at No. 366, but despite his higher ranking Paul knows he needs to stay focused in unfamiliar conditions in the Uzbekistani capital. Yet the American admitted he may have at least one source of outside help as he prepares for his maiden tour-level meetings against Sultanov and Fomin.
“When the [Australian Open] started I was texting Reilly [Opelka] a bunch about the players I was playing and he was giving me the scouting reports,” said Paul, who reached his maiden Grand Slam semi-final in Melbourne. “Every morning when I’d wake up for a match, he was sending me a long paragraph about what to do against certain players… maybe I’ll hit him up tomorrow!”
Wawrinka & Zverev Clash In Trier
A Central European derby features a blockbuster opening day in the German city of Trier, where the home team’s former World No. 2 Alexander Zverev meets Switzerland’s three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka on Friday evening.
That follows a big-serving opening matchup between Oscar Otte and Marc-Andrea Huesler, with every win likely to be crucial in a meeting between two teams that appear evenly-matched on paper.
In Stockholm, Swedish fans will look for strong opening displays from brothers Mikael Ymer and Elias Ymer as the seven-time champion nation bids to extend its winning streak in home ties to six against Bosnia & Herzegovina. The World No. 60 Mikael faces Mirza Basic on Day 1, while his elder brother Elias, the World No. 120, plays Damir Dzumhur.
France, GB Face Tough Tests On The Road
Another nation with a rich Davis Cup history, 10-time winner France, faces a tricky Qualifier away to Marton Fucsovics-led Hungary. Three-time ATP Tour titlist Ugo Humbert is the man charged with taking on the former World No. 31 Fucsovics. Humbert will look to his teammate Benjamin Bonzi to first settle any French nerves in Friday’s opening rubber against Zsombor Piros.
In the other two Qualifiers set to start Friday, Norway takes on Miomir Kecmanovic-led Serbia while Cameron Norrie and Daniel Evans will hope to handle the high altitude of Cota, a town near Bogota, where Great Britain takes on Colombia.
Fast-rising World No. 40 Jack Draper is another singles option for the 2015 champions, who hold a clear rankings advantage over their opponents but will need to adapt quickly to conditions on the clay favoured by leading home players Nicolas Mejia and Nicolas Barrientos.
Coric, Thiem Set For Saturday Showdown
The draws for the six ties with Saturday starts are to be made Friday, but a Day 1 clash between Borna Coric and Dominic Thiem could light up the tie between Croatia and Austria. The 2005 and 2018 champions Croatia have brought a strong squad together in the city of Rijeka, where World No. 21 Marin Cilic and the doubles pairing of Nikola Mektic/Mate Pavic are also set to feature.
Other notable meetings projected to highlight the weekend’s action include Belgium’s David Goffin against South Korea’s Soonwoo Kwon. Goffin led his nation to the Davis Cup Final in 2015 and 2017, while Kwon lifted his second ATP Tour title in Adelaide three weeks ago. In La Serena, Chile, the host’s former World No. 17 Cristian Garin could face an intriguing clash of styles if he is drawn to play against Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik.
This story features contributions from DavisCup.com