ZAGREB, November 25, 2016
Croatia and Argentina are tied 1-1 after the singles rubbers at the opening day of the 2016 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Final held at the Arena Zagreb.
Marin Cilic needed five sets to defeat Federico Delbonis 6-3, 7-5, 3-6, 1-6, 6-2 to give Croatia the lead. The 28-year-old sent down 17 aces and won 77 per cent of his first service points to seal victory after three hours and 30 minutes.
“The crowd obviously helped me to stay in there,” Cilic was relieved after his win. “It was not easy being two sets up and Federico started play great and aggressive tennis. At the beginning of the fifth set, I just started to stay in there and I got the break, which made the difference.
In Davis Cup you always have to plan that there is going to be some ups and downs during a best-of-five set match. I was lucky to be strong in the end. All of the fans here create a great atmosphere here and it is a pleasure to compete in this final.”
Cilic has now won 10 of his last 12 Davis Cup singles rubbers – and he may need to add another in Sunday’s reverse singles to keep Croatia’s title hopes alive. He is also likely to compete in Saturday’s doubles rubber.
Del Potro Levels The Tie
Cilic is guaranteed to face Juan Martin del Potro in the fourth rubber, as the Argentine found a way past 37-year-old Ivo Karlovic, the oldest man in 96 years to play singles in a Davis Cup Final, winning the second rubber 6-4, 6-7, 6-3, 7-5. The “Tower of Tandil” withstood 35 aces, hitting 15 of his own to level the Davis Cup Final after three hours and 18 minutes.
It is the fourth Davis Cup meeting between Croatia and Argentina. Argentina won all 3 of their previous meetings in World Group quarterfinals – on clay in Buenos Aires in both 2002 and 2012 and on carpet in Zagreb in 2006. This is their first meeting on a hard court.
Croatia is bidding to win its 2nd Davis Cup title and equal Russia in 9th place on the all-time list of Davis Cup champions. Croatia won its only Davis Cup title unseeded in 2005, when it defeated Slovakia 3-2 in the Final in Bratislava.
Argentina is looking to become the 15th nation to win the Davis Cup title, having lost all 4 of its previous appearances in the Davis Cup Final in 1981 (l. USA), 2006 (l. Russia), 2008 (l. Spain) and 2011 (l. Spain). It is one of only 4 nations, along with Belgium, India and Romania, to have reached more than one Davis Cup Final without being crowned champion, but the only nation to have lost 4 Finals without winning the title.
Play resumes with the doubles rubber at 3pm local (2pm GMT) on Saturday.