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Paul, Fritz sweep singles to lead U.S. past Kazakhstan, improve to 2-0 in Glasgow

Victoria Chiesa | September 15, 2022


To keep the U.S. Davis Cup perfect in Glasgow, Taylor Fritz turned around an imperfect head-to-head. The U.S. No. 1 outlasted Alexander Bublik 7-6(6), 1-6, 6-3 to clinch an eventual 2-1 overall victory against Kazakhstan, the Americans' second Group D victory in as many ties this week. 

 

Fritz had lost his first three career matches against Bublik, all on hard courts, before scoring his first-ever win against him this summer on grass in Eastbourne in straight sets. Back-to-back wins against the mercurial Kazakh No. 1 didn't come easily: Fritz came from 5-3 down in the first set and saved four set points in all before winning it. 

 

Three of Bublik's chances to take a one-set lead came on his serve at 5-4, and he also had a set point in the tiebreak at 6-5.

"Anytime I play Alex is really tough. I have a losing record with him and he's just awkward to play against," Fritz said after the match.

 

"I was really lucky to get through the first set and I rebounded back in the third. I changed my strategy a bit, adjusted and playd a good third set. 

 

"Last night was a tough one, and after getting that win, it's even more important to just come out here, build on that and get another win."

 

Fritz's victory came after Tommy Paul opened proceedings with a routine 6-1, 6-4 win over 34-year-old Mikhail Kukushkin, the former No. 39 who's now ranked No. 221 in the world.

After earning a three-set win over Great Britain's Dan Evans in the U.S.'s marathon 2-1 win over Great Britain on Thursday, Paul is now 2-0 this week in his first-ever "live" Davis Cup action, having earned his last two wins in "dead" rubbers when ties were already decided. 

 

Playing the role of the opener is sitting just fine with the 25-year-old: He won eight of the first 10 games against Kukushkin, the second-winningest player in Kazakhstan's Davis Cup history.

 

"I felt pretty comfortable, even though the games were close," Paul said in victory. "The first set I felt like I was in full control. He wasn't putting too much pressure on me, so I felt like I could dictate everything in the first set. The second set got tricky."

 

Kazakhstan denied the U.S. a sweep with a doubles win in the third and final rubber; Bublik and Aleksandr Nedovyesov knocked off Rajeev Ram and Jack Sock 6-2, 7-6(6). Less than 24 hours after finishing off a comeback win against Andy Murray and Joe Salisbury that decided the tie against Great Britain, Ram and Sock were unable to match the feat against the Kazakhs; they had three set points in the second set to extend the match. 

 

The U.S. will have a day off on Friday before returning to action against the Netherlands on Saturday. The No. 1 and No. 2-finishing teams in the group will advance to November's knockout rounds in Malaga, Spain with the chance to play for the Davis Cup. The Americans currently sit atop Group D and will qualify for Malaga if the Netherlands beats Great Britain on Friday. If Great Britain wins that tie, the U.S. will need to beat the Netherlands on Saturday to ensure its advancement.

 

Should Great Britain beat the Netherlands and Kazakhstan and the Netherlands then beat the U.S., there would be a three-way tie atop the group, and percentage of matches, sets and games won—not head-to-head—would determine the two nations advancing.

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