Del­bo­nis to open for Ar­gentina against Croa­tia in Davis Cup

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Leav­ing be­hind two in­jury-hit years, Juan Martin del Potro is looking to cap his suc­cess­ful come­back by lead­ing Ar­gentina to its first Davis Cup ti­tle. The 2009 U.S. Open cham­pion said host Croa­tia is the fa­vorite in the best-of-five se­ries, but be­lieves Ar­gentina is in a strong po­si­tion af­ter los­ing in four Davis Cup fi­nals since 1981. “Croa­tia has a very strong team, but we are looking for­ward to a very good week­end,” Del Potro said. “They are play­ing at home on a fa­vorite (fast in­door) sur­face. But, I also like fast sur­faces.” Fed­erico Del­bo­nis will start Ar­gentina’s quest for the ti­tle by play­ing to­day’s open­ing sin­gles match against Marin Cilic. Yes­ter­day’s draw also pits del Potro against big-serv­ing Ivo Karlovic, who re­turned to Croa­tia’s team af­ter a four-year ab­sence. In the dou­bles, the Croa­t­ian pair of Ivan Dodig and Franko Sku­gor will face Leonardo Mayer and Gau­dio Pella. Re­verse sin­gles are sched­uled for Sun­day. “If I win, it will be a bit less pres­sure on Ivo and a bit more pres­sure on Delpo,” Cilic said. “I’m feel­ing quite pos­i­tive.” Ar­gentina is the only na­tion in the Davis Cup’s 116-year history which has reached four fi­nals with­out win­ning the ti­tle. Croa­tia, tar­get­ing its sec­ond Davis Cup ti­tle af­ter beat­ing Slo­vakia in the fi­nal in 2005, will be led by an in-form Cilic, who has reached a ca­reer-best year-end rank­ing of No. 6. “We are hop­ing that this long quest for the cup ti­tle will come to an end,” del Potro said. “This is a very dif­fer­ent team we have since the last fi­nals, new play­ers, new team cap­tain (Daniel Or­sanic). Hope­fully, a dif­fer­ent result as well.” The 37-year-old Karlovic will be the old­est player in the Davis Cup fi­nal in nearly a cen­tury. The tow­er­ing Croat said he hopes to have short points and many aces in the match against del Potro. “I will try to evade long ex­changes, he is bet­ter in long points,” Karlovic said. “More aces I serve, less able Delpo will be able to win.” Croa­tia team cap­tain Zeljko Kra­jan had to make a last minute change to his ros­ter, leav­ing young­ster Borna Coric out be­cause of his re­cent knee surgery. Coric was re­placed by dou­bles spe­cial­ist Sku­gor. “It was a very tough de­ci­sion,” Kra­jan said. “Un­for­tu­nately, he is not fully fit to play long matches.”

Ar­gentina's, from left: Juan Martin Del Potro, Fed­erico Del­bo­nis, team cap­tain Daniel Or­sanic, Guido Pella and Leonardo Mayer pose dur­ing the Davis Cup fi­nal draw cer­e­mony Photo: AP

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