Davis Cup redemption for Croatia as classy Cilic secures title

Virginia Santiago
November 28, 2018

The French doubles player Nicolas Mahut - who had supplied the most vibrant moments of the tie when he and partner Pierre-Hugues Herbert beat Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavic in Saturday's scintillating doubles rubber - also gave Haggerty an intense talking-to.

Croatia won all three singles matches in straight sets.

Cilic said the fact that the final was the last in the competition's current guise added to the joy. "For us, it's a dream come true, for this nation, we are so passionate, you can see the fans".

"I won't criticise the small federations which voted "yes" because the new format will give them a change to blood young players".

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Chardy had won five of his six Davis Cup singles matches but Friday's was the biggest he had ever been involved in.

Coric had won his other singles rubber against Jeremy Chardy, while Cilic had put Croatia 2-0 up by beating Tsonga.

France hoped the slow surface would be a problem for Cilic and Coric, who had to quickly adapt to clay after playing last week on a hard court at the ATP Finals in London.

"Yes, that makes it special", said Cilic.

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The plan backfired as Chardy, ranked 40 in the world, failed to hold his opening service game, which lasted for 12 minutes and included two double faults before Coric broke. A backhand wide handed Cilic a 6-5 lead and the former U.S. Open champion wrapped up the set at love on serve.

And Croatia captain Zeljko Krajan admitted: "2016 was in my mind for a long time".

In a tight second set, Cilic coped with the pressure to save two break points in the eighth game, and Tsonga cracked with unforced errors.

He hung on grimly in the first set, saving a break point at 4-4 with a lovely dropshot. However with the home crowd noisily cheering Chardy, Coric held his nerve and his serve to take the set 7-5.

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The Frenchman saved two match points at 5-3 but was forced to watch when Cilic unleashed a superb lob that secured another break and the title.

France captain Yannick Noah is sending out Lucas Pouille to face Croatia's top player Marin Cilic in Sunday's first reverse singles match of the Davis Cup final in an attempt to keep his team in contention.

"For me the least thing was to lose, very well, but with your head up, to go on the ground and fight me to the end with the means that I had today".

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