The United States Davis Cup team swept both matches in the first session of Davis Cup qualifying vs. Colombia Friday evening at the Reno Events Center.
Making his Davis Cup debut, 21-year old Sebastian Korda prevailed in a hard fought two-hour match against 22-year-old Nicolas Mejia 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 in a budding rivalry between the two friends and contemporaries.
“Yeah, just to finally get that opportunity for myself, yeah, just so happens that my first match in Davis Cup was against my really good friend. It was a special day for me, that’s for sure,” said a smiling Sebastian Korda, adding “We dreamed about it so many times. Nico, he’s super proud, especially when he plays for his country. I mean, he had the opportunity in Turin last year. Just watching him play, how incredible he was doing for his country.”
Korda, leading the USA into the tie comes from quite the bloodline. His father Petr was the 1998 Australian Open champion and was ranked as high as number two in the world, in addition to competing in 18 Davis Cup ties for the Czech Republic.
Petr is also the father of the current number one ranked female golfer in the world and Olympic gold medalist, daughter Nelly.
So, just your average family.
The drumline and members of the cheer squad from the University of Nevada revved up the pro-USA crowd and saw Korda win the first set in fairly convincing fashion behind a blistering and efficient service game. Young Sebastian landed 79% of his first serves and forced Mejia into defensive postures in converting 16-of-19 first serve opportunities.
That all changed in the second set when his accuracy dropped to just 31% and Mejia seized the opportunity and gained confidence.
But Korda would settle down in the final set and take advantage of key Mejia mistakes. Breaking Mejia’s serve in the third game of the deciding set gave the lanky Korda a 2-1 lead and in holding his own serve pushed the lead to 3-1.
With the score 5-4 and Mejia serving, Korda was able to get the service break to secure the victory.
“In the third set, I knew it was going to be a battle, which it was. The nerves start getting there. He was feeling them as well. I had him 15-LOVE but unfortunately I made three mistakes that I shouldn’t have made. That’s too much,” said Mejia in defeat. “My time for that win will come.”
In the second match Taylor Fritz, playing in his fourth Davis Cup tie, played like a man with a dinner reservation at one of Reno’s steakhouses, demolishing an overmatched Alejandro Gonzales 6-1, 6-0.
Fritz’ combination of speed and power had his opponent off balance from the start.
Gonzales had the edge in experience playing in his 10th Davis Cup tie, but after both players held serve to begin the initial set at 1-1, Fritz would go on the win the next 11 games and dispense his opponent in a scant 53 minutes.
USA Davis Cup captain Mardy Fish, who local golfers will recognize from his victory and regular appearances in the American Century Championship at Lake Tahoe for the last several years, felt good about his team’s 2-0 advantage in which the first team to win three matches advances.
“Yeah, great start. That was obviously the goal. I feel like obviously we were favored in both matches, but that never works out really that way,” said Fish.
The captain added in a preview of Saturday’s schedule. “I’m excited to watch the boys in doubles tomorrow. I love watching these guys play, Raj (Ram) and Jack (Sock) together. They were great in Turin.”
Saturday’s action at Reno Events Center begins at 12:30 p.m. with the introduction ceremony and playing of both participating countries’ anthems.
The doubles match of Ram and Sock for the USA facing off against Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah representing Colombia begins at 1 p.m.
The USA can clinch the tie and advance with a victory in doubles which would give them a 3-0 advantage. If that happens the two scheduled singles matches to follow may or may not be played.
Michael Smyth is a writer and photographer who moved to Reno from the Bay Area in 2007. Michael retired from a corporate road-warrior sales career in 2017 where he wrote freelance small-venue music reviews on the side to keep his sanity on the road. When he isn’t covering a concert or sporting event he might be found concocting a salsa recipe, throwing barbless flies in search of trout, or recapturing the skip-and-stop wedge shot of his youth.