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Mackenzie McDonald and Tommy Paul Stake U.S. to 2-0 Davis Cup Lead

Mackenzie McDonald won his Davis Cup debut today in straight sets. EPA-EFE/PETER FOLEY

Mackenzie McDonald and Tommy Paul powered to polished singles wins to put the United States one victory from Davis Cup Finals Qualification.

The U.S. holds a 2-0 lead over host Uzbekistan and will try to complete clean-up time tomorrow.

Paul defeated Khumoyun Sultanov, 6-1, 7-6(6) to stake the Americans to a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five match qualifier at Tashkent’s Olympic Tennis School.

On a hard court players have called lightning quick, both American singles standouts applied their speed and all-court skills in a strong start.

“First set was pretty mellow. I felt pretty comfortable,” Paul said. “The conditions are a little different to get used to but I was happy with how I came out. And then in the second set, he picked up his level a ton and I felt like I wasn’t prepared for it. He got a pretty good lead there in the second.”

Coming off his maiden major semifinal at the Australian Open, Paul picked up his play to prevent a third set.

“I think the team helped me out and the energy I brought in the second to come back, there, was a lot better,” Paul said. “Just pumping myself up and looking a little more up for the challenge. I felt like if I just stayed there every point and brought more energy I could get myself back into the second set, and I kind of figured I’d rather play two sets than three sets.”

Mackenzie McDonald continued his strong start to the season sweeping Sergey Fomin, 6-4, 6-1, in his Davis Cup debut to open this tie.

At the Australian Open, McDonald played with aggression stunning top-seeded defending champion Rafael Nadal. The former NCAA champion for UCLA played with control and confidence in his first Davis Cup match.

“I’m pretty happy with how I played today and took care of business,” McDonald said. “I was a little unsure how the first Davis Cup match would go with the feels and stuff because I haven’t really been there before, but everything went pretty smooth, played my game.

“Thought the level was fairly high. He played some good points, but I just dogged out some games when I needed to and served well when I needed to and got the win.”

American men now account for 10 of the Top 50 in the ATP rankings and are aiming to continue that ascent.

The USA can clinch a clean sweep in Saturday’s doubles. US Open doubles champion and world doubles No. 3 Rajeev Ram and No. 9 Austin Krajicek take on Fomin and Sanjar Fayziev, beginning at 2 a.m. Eastern time (Tashkent is 10 hours ahead from the Eastern time zone).

Tennis Channel will televise the match and Paul is pumped for a potential sweep.

“I’m pumped to watch the doubles, man,” Paul said. “I’m really excited to watch dubs, and I think tomorrow I’d be first up after the doubles. SO I think hopefully I can get as much of that doubles in on the side. Hopefully they play a good match, and a sweep would be nice.

“Bring out the broomsticks.”

The winner of the tie advances to the Group Stage of the Finals in September. The Davis Cup quarterfinals, semifinal and final will be played November 21-26 in Malaga, Spain, to crown the 2023 champion.