Australian Open semifinalist Tommy Paul and Mackenzie McDonald, who beat Rafael Nadal at Melbourne Park, gave the United States a 2-0 lead over host Uzbekistan in Davis Cup qualifying on Friday.
Paul beat Khumoyun Sultanov 6-1, 7-6 (6) after McDonald’s Davis Cup debut produced a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Sergey Fomin on an indoor hard court in Tashkent.
The best-of-five-match series finishes Saturday with one match in doubles followed by two in singles. The Americans can clinch a spot in the group stage of the Davis Cup Finals if Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek defeat Fomin and Sanjar Fayziev in doubles.
“A sweep would be nice,” Paul said. “Bring out the broomsticks.”
Paul moved into the top 20 in the ATP rankings for the first time this week by reaching his first Grand Slam semifinal in Australia, where he lost to eventual champion Novak Djokovic. McDonald eliminated 22-time Grand Slam champion Nadal in the second round at the year’s first Grand Slam tournament.
David Nainkin is serving as interim captain for the United States, replacing Mardy Fish.
There are 12 qualifiers being held this weekend — six on Friday-Saturday, six on Saturday-Sunday — with the winners of each advancing to the Davis Cup Finals group stage in September, along with reigning champion Canada, 2022 runner-up Australia and wild-card recipients Italy and Spain.
Eight teams will then advance to the closing matches of the Davis Cup Finals scheduled for Nov. 21-26 in Malaga, Spain.
In Friday’s other matches:
— Switzerland 1, Germany 1: On indoor hard courts in Trier, Germany, Stan Wawrinka, a three-time Grand Slam champion who helped Switzerland win the 2014 Davis Cup, returned to the team for the first time since 2015 but was beaten by Alexander Zverev 6-4, 6-1. Marc-Andrea Huesler defeated Oscar Otte 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 to even things after Day 1.
— France 1, Hungary 1: On indoor hard courts in Tatabanya, Hungary, Ugo Humbert got past Marton Fucsovics 6-3, 6-2, and Zsombor Piros beat Benjamin Bonzi 7-6 (4), 6-3 for the hosts.
— Sweden 2, Bosnia 0: On indoor hard courts in Stockholm, Swedish brothers Elias and Mikael Ymer gave the hosts a big lead. Elias beat Damir Dzumhur 6-1, 6-4, and Mikael defeated Mirza Basic 6-4, 7-5
Serbia 2, Norway 0: On indoor hard courts in Oslo, the visitors were without 22-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic after his recent Australian Open triumph but they grabbed a lead heading into Saturday thanks to wins by Laslo Djere against Viktor Durasovic 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (8) and by Miomir Kecmanovic against Andreja Petrovic 6-1, 6-3.
— Britain and Colombia were tied 1-1 on outdoor clay courts in Cota, Colombia. Dan Evans was upset 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 by No. 253-ranked Nicolas Mejia and the home side took a 1-0 lead. But Cameron Norrie later beat Nicolas Barrientos 6-2, 7-5. Evans is scheduled to partner Neal Skupski against the former No. 1-ranked doubles pair of Juan-Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah on the final day Saturday.