Australian Open semifinalist Tommy Paul and Mackenzie McDonald, who defeated Rafael Nadal at Melbourne Park, gave the United States a 2-0 lead over host Uzbekistan in Davis Cup qualifying Friday.
Paul defeated 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 played 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.