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Marin Cilic record his 49th match win of 2016 over Argentina’s Federico Delbonis on Friday in the Davis Cup final.

Croatia, Argentina Level In Davis Cup Final

The two nations are tied at 1-1 after day one

Arena Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia
Davis Cup Final

Croatia, the 2005 champion, is level with four-time former finalist Argentina at 1-1 on Friday in the Davis Cup final at the Arena Zagreb. Argentina has previously defeated Croatia in quarter-final ties in 2002, 2006 and 2013.

Marin Cilic handed Croatia the early lead when he used his big-match experience to beat Argentina’s Federico Delbonis 6-3, 7-5, 3-6, 1-6, 6-2 in three hours and 30 minutes. Cilic, who improved to a 49-23 record on the season, won 77 per cent of his first service points and struck 17 aces. World No. 41 Delbonis, who had recovered from 0-2 sets deficit against Serbia’s Viktor Troicki in last year’s quarter-finals, hit 25 winners and is now 4-3 lifetime in singles rubbers.

"The crowd helped me to stay in there, it was not easy," said Cilic, who is now 22-9 in singles rubbers. "Federico played a great tennis from the middle of the third set to the end of the fourth. Just at the beginning of the fifth, I tried mentally to stay in there and get that break, and it was a huge difference." Cilic completed 2016 at a career-high year-end No. 6 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.

Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro levelled the scoreline when he defeated 37-year-old Ivo Karlovic 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3, 7-5 over three hours and 18 minutes in the second rubber. World No. 20 Karlovic, the oldest player to feature in a singles rubber in a final tie for 96 years (43-year-old Australian Norman Brookes in 1920), won four straight points from a 4/6 deficit in the second set tie-break. He hit 35 aces, but also 12 double faults.

Del Potro, the Comeback Player of the Year in the ATP World Tour Awards presented by Moët & Chandon, lost just eight of his first service points (68/76) and converted three of his seven break point opportunities. The World No. 38, now 31-12 on the season, will meet Cilic in the first reverse singles rubber on Sunday.

Croatia’s Ivan Dodig and Franko Skugor are scheduled to compete against Argentineans Leonardo Mayer and Guido Pella in the doubles rubber on Saturday.