Cilic hopes to end sea­son with ti­tle

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

AF­TER ris­ing to a ca­reer-best No. 6 rank­ing through solid play at the World Tour Cham­pi­onships in London, Marin Cilic has turned his full at­ten­tion to the week­end Davis Cup fi­nal.

The Croa­t­ian hopes to du­pli­cate his­tory from a decade ago when the young Balkan na­tion won its only ti­tle in the world­wide team com­pe­ti­tion over Slo­vakia in Bratislava.

Now the bat­tle from Fri­day is with Ar­gentina, which has come up heart­break­ingly short in four pre­vi­ous fi­nals, dat­ing to a first in 1981 against the US. \

Cilic, who will lead the hosts, said: “I’m ex­tremely ex­cited ob­vi­ously now. A lit­tle bit more pos­i­tive fin­ish­ing this tour­na­ment with a win. That’s ex­tremely a good thing for me.

“Play­ing now at home, I guess it’s go­ing to be ex­tremely ex­cit­ing for the fans, for the play­ers, for both teams. The teams are go­ing to make the big dif­fer­ence. The team en­ergy, the team spirit from both teams, I think they were great this year.”

Ar­gentina will be “quite mo­ti­vated” for the fi­nal.

“We have to do the same in our team. I’m just hop­ing that our crowd is go­ing to help us and lead us to the win,” he said.

Cilic will be backed up by 37-year-old vet­eran Ivo Karlovic, who “re­tired” from Davis Cup in 2012, while 20year-old Borna Coric is back af­ter in­jury with the pos­si­bil­ity of play­ing. Ivan Dodig leads the dou­bles mix.

Ar­gen­tine are count­ing on timely form from 38thranked Juan Martin del Potro, who skipped the last days of the reg­u­lar ATP sea­son to re­turn home for in­tense train­ing.

“They are the favourites, I imag­ine they will put a very fast sur­face that will ben­e­fit their game, but I will check that once we are in Za­greb,” Del Potro said.

“We were also not favourites in the semi­fi­nals against Bri­tain in Glas­gow but we ended up sur­pris­ing ev­ery­one – we will look for the same thing.”

Del Potro has climbed more than 1,000 rank­ings spots in 2016 af­ter re­turn­ing from a chronic wrist prob­lems, beat­ing Andy Mur­ray in five sets in the semis.

He will be com­pet­ing in his third Davis Cup fi­nal af­ter losses in 2008 and 2011.

“I closed a spec­tac­u­lar year and this would be a great fi­nal prize, I’m re­ally en­joy­ing the build-up,” he said. – dpa

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