McDonald, Paul Give USA Decisive Davis Cup Start Against Uzbekistan
The United States signalled winning intentions Friday in their Davis Cup Qualifier against Uzbekistan, taking a 2-0 lead after the first singles matches.
Debutant Mackenzie McDonald, fresh from an Australian Open outing that saw him take down Rafael Nadal in Melbourne, defeated Uzbekistan’s No.1 Sergey Fomin in the opening rubber of the tie. The 21-year-old Fomin, the No.366 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, delighted the vocal Uzbekistani supporters with flashes of brilliance but the World No.63 McDonald held firm for a 6-4, 6-1 win.
“It’s been amazing,” said McDonald of his first Davis Cup experience so far. “I’d say it’s really nice playing a team event. It’s not something you get to do a lot throughout the year… I’m very excited to be on the Davis Cup team.”
World No.19 Tommy Paul then faced No.480-ranked Khumoyun Sultanov in the second singles match.
After taking the first set 6-1, Paul faced a renewed onslaught from the Uzbek, who leapt to an early 4-0 lead before being reeled back in. The pair then went toe to toe before Paul edged the tie-break for a final score of 6-1, 7-6(6).
“In the second set he picked up his level a tonne,” Paul said afterwards. “I felt like I wasn’t prepared for it. He got a pretty good lead there in the second.
"I think the team helped me out and the energy I brought there in the second was a lot better, just pumping myself up and looking a bit more up for the challenge,” he added.
The 2-0 scoreline leaves Uzbekistan’s doubles pairing of Fomin and Sanjar Fayziev with an uphill battle when they meet Austin Krajicek and Rajeev Ram.
Play in Tashkent resumes on Saturday at 12:00 local time (07:00 hrs GMT).
In Stockholm, Mikael Ymer and Elias Ymer each delivered comprehensive singles victories to put Sweden in command of their Qualifier against Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Despite some late resistance from Mirza Basic, the World No. 60 Mikael completed a 6-4, 7-5 win in the opening rubber of the tie to set the tone at Stockholm’s Royal Tennis Hall. His elder brother Elias, the World No. 120, then rode a wave of vocal home support to ease to a 6-1, 6-4 triumph against Bosnian No. 1 Damir Dzumhur.
The seven-time Davis Cup champion Sweden entered the clash on a five-tie winning streak at home. After helping move his nation into a commanding position on Day 1 of the Qualifier, Mikael acknowledged that the positive vibes around the Swedish camp gave him extra motivation to perform.
“Me and my brother used to say that we wish every week is like a Davis Cup week,” said the 24-year-old after his 88-minute win against Basic. “We have lots of fun, we have dinners every night with the team and everything is well organized. I always look forward to Davis Cup and I think the others do too.”
Mikael converted three of seven break points to down the World No. 394 Basic, who broke back for 4-5 in the second set to stay alive in the rubber. Yet the Swede’s combination of power and accuracy proved too much as Mikael improved his Davis Cup singles record to 15-7.
His 26-year-old brother Elias wasted little time doubling Sweden’s lead, converting seven of 12 break points against the former World No. 23 Dzumhur in a devastating returning display. Elias, who is playing in his 20th Davis Cup tie for his country after making his debut in 2013, now holds a 15-14 Davis Cup singles record.
Sweden can seal its spot in September’s Davis Cup Finals Group Stage with victory in any of the three remaining rubbers in the Swedish capital. Saturday’s action will open with Filip Bergevi and Andre Goransson taking on Basic and Tomislav Brkic in the doubles, before the reverse singles matchups.
This story features contributions from DavisCup.com