Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul helped the United States see off Kazakhstan and top Group D in the singles at the Davis Cup in Glasgow on Thursday.
Fritz edged out Alexander Bublik in three sets, while Paul made light work of Mikhail Kukushkin with a straight-sets victory. However, Bublik returned with partner Aleksandr Nedovyesov to down Jack Sock and Rajeev Ram in the doubles and reduce the overall score to 2-1.
History has proven Bublik to be a tricky opponent for Fritz, but it was an early break in the deciding set which swung momentum in Fritz’s favour as he went on to claim victory in one hour and 36 minutes.
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Paul needed one hour and 25 minutes to get past Kukushkin in a match that was tighter than the score line suggests, making it consecutive wins for the American who saw off Great Britain’s Dan Evans on Wednesday.
Back-to-back victories for the USA puts them in a strong position to advance to the knockout phase ahead of their final match with the Netherlands on Saturday. Meanwhile, Kazakhstan know they have to beat Great Britain on Sunday to stand any chance of progressing.
Speaking after the match, Paul was pleased with his individual display in the first set but admitted he had to dig deep in the second:
“I felt pretty comfortable, even though the games were close,” Paul said. “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.”
Fritz claimed that he needed to adapt his style in order to overcome Bublik – with patience the key to coming away with the win:
“Today I think a lot of it was just accepting in a third set that I was just going to have to battle and grind and play longer rallies. My game style is to be very aggressive and dictate. I just had to sit back and be a little more patient and I think that’s what got it for me in the end.”
16 teams are competing in four round-robin groups of four teams, with the top two teams in each group going through to the knockout phase. This takes place on the hard courts of Malaga, Spain, this November.
Federer will take his final bow on the hard courts of the O2 Arena when the Laver Cup comes to London on the weekend of 23-25 September.
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