THE United States swept its way into the group stage of the Davis Cup Finals on Saturday, getting the winning point in a 4-0 victory over Uzbekistan from the doubles team of Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek.
They beat Sergey Fomin and Sanjar Fayziev, 6-2, 6-4, after Tommy Paul and Mackenzie McDonald had won singles matches Friday in Tashkent.
Stan Wawrinka punctuated his return to the competition he helped Switzerland win alongside Roger Federer in 2014 by winning the deciding match against Germany. Serbia, France, Britain and Sweden also closed out victories Saturday.
Ram is No. 3 in the Association of Tennis Professionals Tour doubles rankings and partnered with Joe Salisbury to win the last two US Open men’s doubles titles. But the Americans opted not to use Ram last year in the final round, when they dropped the doubles match in a 2-1 defeat against Italy in the quarterfinals.
Krajicek was making his Davis Cup debut, having reached No. 9 in the doubles rankings late last year.
“They had five great days of preparation, and as anticipated they came out really sharp and got the early break in the first set. And after that it was like two freight trains, there was no stopping them,” interim captain David Nainkin said.
Denis Kudla then beat Amir Milushev, 6-4, 6-4.
The winners of the 12 qualifiers being held this weekend—six on Friday-Saturday, six on Saturday-Sunday—advance to the Davis Cup Finals group stage in September, along with reigning champion Canada, 2022 runner-up Australia and wild-card recipients Italy and Spain.
Eight teams will advance to the closing matches of the Davis Cup Finals scheduled for November 21 to 26 in Malaga, Spain.
In Saturday’s other matches:
— Switzerland 3, Germany 2: Wawrinka, a three-time Grand Slam champion playing in the Davis Cup for the first time since 2015, edged Daniel Altmaier, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, on an indoor hard court in Trier, Germany. Wawrinka had lost in singles and doubles earlier in the two-day tie, but got another chance when Marc-Andrea Huesler upset Alexander Zverev, 6-2, 7-6 (4), in the opening singles match Saturday.
— France 3, Hungary 2: On indoor hard courts in Tatabanya, Hungary, Ugo Humbert won it for the French with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Fabian Marozsan. Adrian Mannarino had forced the deciding match by beating Marton Fucsovics, 7-6 (6), 6-2.
— Serbia 4, Norway 0: On indoor hard courts in Oslo, the visitors, playing without top-ranked Novak Djokovic, put away the match when Filip Krajinovic and Nikola Cacic edged Viktor Durasovic and Herman Hoeyeraal, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Hamad Medjedovic then outlasted Durasovic, 6-4, 6-7, 10-4.
— Britain 3, Colombia 1: On outdoor clay courts in Cota, the visitors won two matches Saturday to advance. Dan Evans and Neal Skupski beat the former No. 1-ranked doubles pair of Juan-Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 6-4, 6-4, before Cam Norrie downed Nicolas Mejia, 6-4, 6-4.
— Sweden 3, Bosnia 1: On indoor hard courts in Stockholm, Mikael Ymer sent the hosts through by beating Damir Dzumhur, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3.
— Croatia 2, Austria 0: On indoor hard courts in Rijeka, Croatia, Borna Gojo held off 2020 US Open champion Dominic Thiem, 6-3, 7-6 (2). Borna Coric opened the tie for the two-time champions, who are No. 1 in the Davis Cup rankings, by beating Dennis Novak, 6-3, 7-5.
— Argentina 1, Finland 1: On indoor hard courts in Espoo, Francisco Cerundolo outlasted Otto Virtanen, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (3), to even up the tie. Emil Ruusuvuori got the hosts started with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Pedro Cachin.
— Netherlands 2, Slovakia 0: On indoor hard courts in Groningen, Tallon Griekspoor and Tim Van Rijthoven moved the hosts within a point of advancing with three-set victories. Griekspoor beat Lukas Klein 7-6 (6), 2-6, 6-4. Van Rijthoven topped Alex Molcan, 7-6 (6), 5-7, 6-3.
— Belgium 2, South Korea 0: On indoor hard courts in Seoul, David Goffin cruised to a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Seong Chan Hong after Zizou Bergs had to work much harder in the opening match. Bergs edged Soonwoo Kwon, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6).
— Czech Republic 2, Portugal 0: On an indoor clay court in Maia, Portugal, Jiri Lehecka gave the Czechs an early lead with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Nuno Borges, before Tomas Machac held off Joao Sousa, 7-6 (6), 3-6, 6-2.
— Chile 1, Kazakhstan 1: On an outdoor clay court in La Serena, Chile, Timofei Skatov beat Cristian Garin, 6-1, 6-3, before Nicolas Jarry got the Chileans back to even by beating Alexander Bublik, 6-2, 6-2.
Image credits: AP