Preview: Cilic Features In Davis Cup Semi-finals
Pouille, Carreno Busta, Bautista Agut also in action this week
ATPWorldTour.com previews the two Davis Cup semi-finals, beginning on Friday.
CROATIA vs. UNITED STATES
Sportski Centar Visnjik, Zadar – Clay (Outdoors)
Croatia is attempting to maintain its unbeaten record against the United States in the Davis Cup. The 2005 champion beat United States in 2003, 2005, 2009 and 2016.
Croatia, almost two years on from losing to Argentina in the 2016 final, is bidding to extend its six-tie winning streak on clay courts in Zadar. Captain Zeljko Krajan has selected Marin Cilic, Borna Coric, Mate Pavic and Ivan Dodig.
Coric starts proceedings on Friday against American Steve Johnson, while Cilic faces Frances Tiafoe, who is making his Davis Cup debut. Dodig and Pavic are scheduled to challenge Mike Bryan and Ryan Harrison in Saturday’s doubles rubber. Mike Bryan is playing his first Davis Cup match since retiring from the competition in 2016.
World No. 6 Cilic, who has a 36-10 record (26-10 in singles) in Davis Cup ties, has a formidable 7-1 singles mark in home ties since 2010 (13-4 overall since his debut in 2006). He is currently tied with Ivan Ljubicic (36-19) for most Davis Cup victories for Croatia.
“I’m extremely satisfied about it,” said Tiafoe, the 141st player to represent the United States in Davis Cup. “I’m happy to be on the team, happy to get the opportunity and to be with a great group of guys. I’m just ready to go and to have a good week.”
The United States is bidding to advance to the final for the first time since 2007, when the nation defeated Russia 4-1 for its 32nd title. United States has won three of its past four away ties.
FRANCE vs. SPAIN
Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille – Hard (Indoors)
Defending champion France, 10-time titlist overall, plays host to Spain as the two countries face off in Davis Cup for the first time since 2011. Five-time winner Spain defeated France in the 2004 and 2011 semi-finals en route to the historic trophy.
Benoit Paire will make his debut for France in the first rubber against Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain, while Lucas Pouille, who clinched the decisive rubber in the 2017 final, meets Roberto Bautista Agut. Julien Benneteau, who retires this year, is scheduled to join forces with Nicolas Mahut against Spain’s Marcel Granollers and Feliciano Lopez on Saturday.
“Mentally, before, I was not ready to play for the French team… But now I feel good, I feel fresh and confident,” said Paire, who is preferred over French No. 2 Richard Gasquet. “During this year, I've been much more consistent and honestly I feel much better in my head and now I really want to win.”
France is bidding to reach consecutive Davis Cup finals for the first time since 2001-02 – and only the seventh nation overall in the past 20 years. Spain, winners of six of its past seven ties, attempts to advance to its first title match since 2012 (l. to Czech Republic).