Cilic Carries Croatia; Mayer Produces Clutch Win For Argentina
CROATIA 3, FRANCE 2
Venue: Kresimir Cosic Hall, Zadar, CRO (hard - indoor)
World No. 11 Marin Cilic was the hero for Croatia on Sunday, sending the eastern European nation into its second Davis Cup Final. Cilic, who won both his singles rubbers and teamed with Ivan Dodig to take Saturday's doubles clash, clinched the tie 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 over Richard Gasquet.
Croatia defeated France 3-2 after Frenchman Lucas Pouille won an abbreviated fifth rubber 6-4, 6-4 against Marin Draganja. The team victory marks Croatia's return to the Davis Cup Final for the first time in 11 years, when Ivan Ljubicic and Mario Ancic guided them to their lone title in 2005. Croatia became the first unseeded nation to win the title then and will look to replicate the feat this year when they host the final against Argentina, which defeated Great Britain on Sunday.
"When you look at the atmosphere, it’s an incredible feeling," said Cilic. "It’s been a dream weekend for us. I played incredible tennis. I produced a great performance for all the crowd. I can’t be more proud than right now.
"We have always been playing well in Davis Cup. It’s something that’s in your heart."
On Sunday, Cilic was dominant on the fast hard court in Zadar. He sealed the tie with forehand approach winner into the open court after two hours and 14 minutes. In total, the 27 year old fired 21 winners, including 14 aces, while converting six of nine break chances.
Cilic levels his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Gasquet at 2-2, having dropped their first two encounters. The Croatian has since won two in a row this year, including a three-set victory at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. He has been on a tear in recent months, after reaching the Wimbledon quarter-finals and claiming his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati.
ARGENTINA 3, GREAT BRITAIN 2
Venue: Emirates Arena, Glasgow, GBR (hard – indoor)
Leonardo Mayer halted a historic comeback attempt from Great Britain on Sunday, beating Daniel Evans in the fifth and deciding rubber 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. The clutch performance sends Argentina into its fifth Davis Cup Final and first since 2011 when they lost to Spain in Seville.
“Leo has played very, very good Davis Cup matches before so he has that feeling in his body and his mind... He showed it today,” Argentina captain Daniel Orsanic told the ITF. “I am proud of these four players and the players who aren’t here, too, who are supporting us from home. Today we can celebrate.”
The tie came down to Mayer vs. Evans after Andy Murray routed Argentina's Guido Pella 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 earlier on Sunday. Great Britain was bidding to secure just the 11th comeback from 0-2 down in World Group history. The defending champion Brits were also seeking to capture their seventh consecutive tie victory.
Despite the high stakes, Juan Martin del Potro sat out Sunday's final rubber with a "lower-body injury". Del Potro, who has struggled with wrist injuries the past few years, had spent eight hours and two minutes on court during his first singles match (d. Murray) and doubles contest (l. to Murray/Murray).
But Argentina still advanced in the Emirates Arena in Glasgow, thanks to an impressive performance from Mayer. The right-hander controlled the contest with his serve, hitting 15 aces and winning 84 per cent of his first-serve points (56/67). During the two-hour and 44-minute match, Mayer faced only four break points and erased all but one of them.
“I am very happy to be able to play like this after all my injuries,” Mayer said. “The hero is the team. Here, we all played together. We are a team – I only played one match in this win.”
The 29 year old improves his Davis Cup singles record to 11-3 with the win over Evans, who had produced notable results in recent months. Evans, No. 53 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, won an ATP Challenger title in Aptos, U.S.A., in early August and held a match point against eventual US Open champion Stan Wawrinka during their third-round contest.