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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Tuesday, January 30, 2024

 
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"Our hearts are with them, and we’re going to be competing here in solidarity with them," U.S. captain Bob Bryan said of facing Ukraine in this weekend's Davis Cup tie in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Photo credit: Saulius ─îirba

Allies are adversaries in Lithuania this week.

A U.S. squad of Taylor Fritz, Sebastian Korda, Christopher Eubanks, Austin Krajicek and Rajeev Ram launches its quest for a record-extending 33rd Davis Cup crown starting Thursday against Ukraine.

More: Richard Evans Q&A

The Davis Cup qualifying tie is staged in Vilnius, Lithuania as Ukraine continues to defend itself from Russia's unprovoked invasion of the nation.

U.S. captain Bob Bryan said global conflict puts tennis in perspective.

Davis Cup competition is a platform for international unity.

Captain Bryan said American hearts are with their Ukrainian opponents in their ongoing efforts to repel Russia and expects both sides to bring their best this weekend.

"It’s an unfortunate situation," Bob Bryan told the media. "I know they would like to play at home in front of their own fans. But we all haven’t forgotten what’s going on there and the war.

"Our hearts are with them, and we’re going to be competing here in solidarity with them. Like I said, it’s competition, and we’ll all compete hard. But there’s a lot of bigger things going on right now, and we know that."

Of coure, what you don't know can hurt you.

And the Americans admit they don't know much about a Ukrainian team that includes world No. 165 Vitaliy Sachko, No. 342 Oleksii Krutykh, No. 598 Vladyslav Orlov and No. 498 Viacheslav Bielinskyi.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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To prepare, U.S. coaches and players have been scouting on YouTube and Bryan said he's impressed by the all-around games of the Ukrainians.

"Honestly before the draw came out I didn’t know them very well," Byran said. "But I’ve seen a lot of footage. We have a lot of matches of those guys, and both guys are – singles guys – are accomplished players, and they don’t really have a whole lot of holes in their game.

"So we really respect them and I think we have to come out and do our stuff if we want to get through."

The USA vs. Ukraine tie is part of a Davis Cup doubleheader being played at the SEB Arena in Vilnius this weekend.

Following the USA and Ukraine on February 1-2, the SEB Arena will host the World Group I Playoff tie between Lithuania and Georgia February 3-4. Both ties will be played on the same indoor hard court.

The draw for the tie, which will set the singles and doubles matchups for Thursday and Friday, will be held Wednesday at noon local time (5 a.m. ET) at the Embassy of Ukraine in Vilnius.

U.S. No. 1 Taylor Fritz, fresh off his run to the Australian Open quarterfinals where he pushed 10-time AO champion Novak Djokovic to four sets, said he's confident of a fast start transitioning to an indoor court. 

"It’s different, it’s different conditions," Fritz said. "It’s not a Grand Slam, but I’m with the team and so I have people that are also depending on me to perform and to win and to give me extra motivation, which you don’t have when you’re playing by yourself at tournaments.

"I’m here to get the job done for the team and I’m motivated to do that."



The winner of USA and Ukraine will be one of the 12 nations advancing out of Qualifying to the 16-nation Group Stage of the 2024 Davis Cup Finals that will be played across four TBD cities September 10-15 (Australia, Great Britain, Italy and Spain received automatic entry into the Group Stage).

The top eight nations advancing out of Group Play will play in the Final 8 stage of the competition, a knockout-style quarterfinal bracket to be played in November in Malaga, Spain, that will crown the 2024 Davis Cup champion.

The loser will be relegated to Davis Cup’s World Group I and will have to win a tie against another World Group I nation later this year to re-enter the Qualifying pool for 2025.

USA vs. Ukraine Davis Cup Qualifying Tie

Thursday, February 1 (beginning at 6 p.m. local / 11 a.m. ET)

Singles A – (USA No. 1 vs. UKR No. 2, or vice-versa, depending on draw)
Singles B – (UKR No. 1 vs. USA No. 2, or vice-versa, depending on draw)

Friday, February 2 (beginning at 5 p.m. local / 10 a.m. ET)

Doubles
*Singles C – USA No. 1 vs. UKR No. 1 (or No. 2 vs. No. 2)
*Singles D – USA No. 2 vs. UKR No. 2 (or No. 1 vs. No 1)
* The first team to win three matches wins the tie. Friday’s schedule could be amended if either team clinches victory in the third our fourth match.


 

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