Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek win in doubles to lead the US past Ukraine in the Davis Cup


LONDON (AP) — Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek clinched a spot for the United States in the Davis Cup Finals group round by winning the doubles match against Ukraine on Friday for an insurmountable 3-0 lead in the best-of-five-match qualifying series in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Ram and Krajicek beat Illya Beloborodko and Oleksii Krutykh 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. The Americans own a combined five Grand Slam titles between them and each has been ranked No. 1 in doubles.

Their victory followed a successful opening day of singles for captain Bob Bryan’s U.S. team on Thursday, when Sebastian Korda defeated Krutykh 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-4 and Chris Eubanks replaced an injured Taylor Fritz in the lineup and overwhelmed Viacheslav Bielinskyi 6-3, 6-2.

Ukraine was supposed to host the United States for these qualifying matches. But they were moved to an indoor hard court at SEB Arena in Lithuania because of the ongoing war in Ukraine, which began when Russia invaded in February 2022.

“We know it’s the toughest situation they could be in at home, so the fact they came out and competed as hard as they did says a lot about who they are,” Ram said about the Ukrainians.

The Americans advanced to the next round for the fifth consecutive time under the current Davis Cup format, but they’ve only then made it to the quarterfinals once in that span, in 2022. The country has won a record 32 titles in the men’s team competition, most recently in 2007, when Bryan was on the roster.

The 12 winners from this week’s round, which concludes on Sunday, will join reigning champion Italy, 2023 runner-up Australia, and wild-card entries Britain and Spain in the Finals group stage in September. Then eight teams will make it to the quarterfinals in Malaga, Spain, in November, when a champion will be determined.

Six matchups began Friday and will wrap up Saturday: Slovakia at Serbia (which is without No. 1 Novak Djokovic); South Korea at Canada; Germany at Hungary; Switzerland at Netherlands; Portugal at Finland; and Brazil at Sweden.

Qualifying matches that will be played Saturday and Sunday: Belgium at Croatia; Israel at Czech Republic; France at Taiwan; Kazakhstan at Argentina; and Peru at Chile.


AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis

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