USA bound for Davis Cup finals

BECOMING the first nation to join Italy, Australia, Spain and Great Britain at the 2024 Davis Cup Finals, the United States made light work of Ukraine in a 4-0 whitewash. The nation’s met in Lithuania after Ukraine drew the homecourt advantage, but it did not stop the victors taking home the win without dropping a match.

Though the USA was headlined by top 10 player Taylor Fritz, considering the sizeable ranking advantage each of the Americans had over their Ukrainian opponents, it was Sebastian Korda and Christopher Eubanks who played the first two singles up against Oleksii Krutykh and Viacheslav Bielinskyi respectively.

Despite taking on the 342nd ranked Krutykh, the 33rd ranked Korda found the going much tougher than expected. After winning the first set courtesy of an important break, the American was shocked at Krutykh took out the second set in a thrilling tiebreaker, 7-3. Needing to find his form again in the decider, Korda served seven of his 16 aces and did not drop a point off his first serve to claim a 6-3 6-7 6-4 victory.

Korda hit 18 winners to 13, but had 10 more unforced errors (54-44) in the victory, as the Ukrainian held his own in the serving department. Krutykh served up four aces and won 62 per cent of his first serve points, though was better off his second compared to Korda (49 to 46 per cent).

Eubanks had it a little easier against Bielinskyi, with the 32nd ranked American only dropping five games en route to victory over the top seeded Ukrainian. Sachko, who is ranked 165th in the world, did manage to break Eubanks, but only hit seve winners for the match, as the American took control with seven aces among 19 winners in the 6-3 6-2 victory.

Top doubles combination Austin Krajicek and Rajeev Ram then closed out the tie with another tougher than expected contest. Both ranked top five in the world, the pair had far more trouble than they might have expected against Krutykh and Illya Beloborodko, neither of whom are doubles players and ranked 947th and below.

Despite that, the Ukrainian pair continued the nation’s punching above its weight in the tie, taking the second set and fighting for an hour and 51 minutes before eventually succumbing, 6-3 4-6 6-3. The American duo served seven aces among 28 winners to 17 unforced errors, while the Ukrainian pair put up four aces from 18 winners, but 24 unforced errors.

Fritz got his chance in the reverse singles dead rubber taking on the other member of hte Ukrainian team in Vladyslav Orlov. While as expected Fritz won in straight sets, again the 598th ranked Ukrainian did not roll over, making it a 6-3 6-4 result with only one more unforced error (22-21). Despite Fritz usually able to use hi power well, he only hit three more additional winners on top of his nine aces, which was credit to Orlov’s counter-punching.

USA captain Bob Bryan said he was pleased to head back to the Davis Cup Finals, and despite the 4-0 whitewash, conceded it was far tougher on teh court than on paper.

“I’m proud of the guys,” he said. “I love spending time with them. Great bunch of kids. They played great this week. The Ukrainians put up some tough resistance at times. They fought hard until the last ball, but out guys were solid, and they really brought it. I thought we played great tennis.

“Hopefully we can build on that this year and play well in the Group Stage – which was our hiccup last year. We got a great group of guys. We got a lot of guys to choose from. We’ve got guys that are excited to play Davis Cup and that’s the most important thing.”


No Novak, no Serbia?

Minus world number one Novak Djokovic, Serbia slumped to a shock 2-0 deficit against an in-form Slovakia despite playing at home. Both Miomir Kecmanovic and Dusan Lajovic went down to lower ranked opponents, with Lukas Klein and Alex Molcan – ranked outside the top 100 – knocking off the two Serbian top 50 players.

Virtanen Finnishes Borges blitz

Finland’s Otto Virtanen is no stranger to big upsets in the Davis Cup as he showed last year, but the Finnish number two managed to curtail in-form Portugese player, Nuno Borges. The top 50 ranked Borges, coming off a quarter final at the Australian Open, was blitzed from start to finish against the 166th ranked talent as Virtanen won 6-2 6-1, before compatriot Emil Ruusuvuori accounted for Joao Sousa easily as well.

Fourth seeds hopes in the balance

Heading to Hungary without top ranked player Alexander Zverev, Germany’s hopes of qualifying for the Davis Cup Finals are in the balance after Marton Fucsovics took care of Jan-Lennard Struff in straight sets, 6-3 7-5. It balanced the ledger after Germany’s Dominik Koepfer defeated Fabian Marozsan in the opening match of the tie.

Riedi reels in another big fish

In-form Swiss rising star Leandro Riedi continued his ripping form from the BW Open where he defeated top seed Borna Coric, to knock off world number 63 Botic Van de Zandschulp and ensure Switzerland remained at 1-1 with its Dutch opponents. In the earlier match, Tallon Griekspoor ground out a straight sets win in two tiebreakers, winning 7-3 in both tiebreakers.

Sweden and Brazil locked at 1-1

Elias Ymer came to the rescue in front of a patriotic Swedish crowd, defeating Brazilian Gustavo Heide in three sets. After dropping the first set 6-4, Ymer regained his composure to win 4-6 6-1 6-3 in an hour and 47 minutes. His victory levelled the tie after Thiago Monteiro got the visitors off to the perfect start with a 6-3 7-6 triumph over lowly ranked Swede, Karl Friberg.

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