Ruud gives Norway 2-0 lead in Davis Cup playoffs


LONDON — Casper Ruud‘s Davis Cup debut as a top-10 player resulted in a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Khumoyun Sultanov on Friday, helping Norway take a 2-0 lead over visiting Uzbekistan in the World Group I playoffs.

The 22-year-old Ruud — whose father, Christian, played for Norway’s Davis Cup team with current captain Anders Haseth — became the country’s first player in the ATP top 10 when he rose one spot from 11th on Monday. After Ruud’s win began the best-of-five-match series on an indoor hard court in Oslo, Viktor Durasovic beat Denis Istomin 6-4, 6-4 for the hosts.

Norway is in the World Group playoffs for the first time since 1995.

In other results Friday, South Korea took a 2-0 lead against New Zealand at Newport, Rhode Island, Chile and host Slovakia were tied 1-1, Finland led visiting India 2-0, and Peru and Bosnia and Herzegovina were tied 1-1 at Lima.

There are 12 World Group I matchups in this playoff round, two of which were contested in March, with Japan beating Pakistan 4-0 and Ukraine defeating Israel 3-2. Of the others, five begin Saturday: Bolivia vs. Belgium in Paraguay, Belarus at Argentina, Brazil at Lebanon, Netherlands at Uruguay, Portugal at Romania.

As part of the move from an 18-team Davis Cup Finals to a 16-team event next year, only the top eight highest-ranked winning countries from this round will participate in the 2022 qualification matches. The other four will play World Group I elimination matches in November, with the two winners then advancing to 2022 qualifiers.

The 12 losing countries in this round will go back into the World Group I playoffs for 2022 in hopes of getting into the qualifying system for the following year.

There are also World Group II matchups this weekend, giving countries a chance to advance to the World Group I playoffs next year.

That includes South Africa against Venezuela, a matchup being played at Forest Hills Stadium in New York, the former site of the US Open Grand Slam tournament, which is hosting Davis Cup competition for the first time since 1959.

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