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

VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) — Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek secured 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.

Ram and Krajicek beat Illya Beloborodko and Oleksii Krutykh 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. The Americans have 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 Thursday, when Sebastian Korda beat 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. On Friday, Fritz beat Orlov Vladyslav 6-3, 6-4 to make it 4-0.

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 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.

On indoor clay in Kraljevo, host Serbia — playing without No. 1 Novak Djokovic — trailed Slovakia 2-0 in one of the six matchups that began Friday and will wrap up Saturday. Alex Molcan rallied to beat Dusan Lajovic 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 in the second match after Lukas Klein topped Miomir Kecmanovic 7-6 (2), 6-2.

Canada and Finland swept their opening matches at home, with Gabriel Diallo and Vasek Pospisil winning for Canada against South Korea in Montreal, and Otto Virtanen and Emil Ruusuvuori taking matches for Finland against Portugal in Turku.

Germany was tied 1-1 at Hungary, and Switzerland's matches at the Netherlands, and Brazil's at Sweden also were even after a day.

In qualifying matches played Saturday and Sunday, Belgium is at Croatia, Israel at the Czech Republic, France at Taiwan, Kazakhstan at Argentina, and Peru at Chile.


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