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    Friday, April 19, 2024

    Chris Eubanks and Sebastian Korda give the U.S. a 2-0 lead over Ukraine in the Davis Cup

    Sebastian Korda of the USA returns the ball to Oleksii Krutykh of Ukraine during a Davis Cup qualifier tennis match between Ukraine and USA in Vilnius, Lithuania, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

    Vilnius, Lithuania — Chris Eubanks stepped in as a late replacement for an injured Taylor Fritz and joined Sebastian Korda in earning singles victories on Thursday to give the United States a 2-0 lead against Ukraine in Davis Cup qualifying.

    The No. 32-ranked Eubanks, a Wimbledon quarterfinalist last year, made his Davis Cup debut and defeated No. 498 Viacheslav Bielinskyi 6-3, 6-2 with the help of a 15-6 edge in forehand winners. That came after No. 33 Korda hit six of his 16 aces in the last two games along the way to beating No. 342 Oleksii Krutykh 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-4.

    "I started off really nervous. I've been pretty nervous all day since I found out I was going to play," said Eubanks, who is from Atlanta and played college tennis at Georgia Tech. "But when I got out on court, things calmed down, and I feel like I played a really high level."

    Fritz, the highest-ranked American man at No. 9, was ruled out hours before play began because of an injured right hip.

    Korda was down 2-1 in the third set before grabbing three consecutive games to move in front for good. His father, Petr, won the 1998 Australian Open and his sisters, Nelly and Jessica, are professional golfers.

    The United States can clinch a spot in the next round by winning Friday's opening match. That is slated to be Austin Krajicek and Rajeev Ram for the U.S. against Vitaliy Sachko and Illya Beloborodko for Ukraine in doubles.

    The best-of-five-match series is being held on indoor hard courts at SEB Arena in Lithuania because of the ongoing war in Ukraine, which began when Russia invaded in February 2022.

    The 12 winners from this round, which concludes on Sunday, will advance to the 2024 Davis Cup Finals, along with reigning champion Italy, 2023 runner-up Australia, and wild-card entries Britain and Spain.

    Other matchups this week: Slovakia at Serbia (which is without No. 1 Novak Djokovic); Georgia at Lithuania; South Korea at Canada; Belgium at Croatia; Germany at Hungary; Switzerland at Netherlands; Israel at Czech Republic; Portugal at Finland; France at Taiwan; Kazakhstan at Argentina; Brazil at Sweden; and Peru at Chile.

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