Croatia takes Davis Cup fi­nal lead over Ar­gentina

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Dusan Stojanovic

Croatia needs one more point to win its sec­ond Davis Cup title af­ter win­ning the dou­bles against Ar­gentina in straight sets on Satur­day.

Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig de­feated Juan Martin del Potro and Leonardo Mayer 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4), 6-3 for a 2-1 lead over Ar­gentina in the fi­nal.

Cilic can se­cure the de­ci­sive point for Croatia against del Potro in the first re­verse sin­gles on Sun­day. If del Potro wins, Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic and Ar­gentina’s Fed­erico Del­bo­nis will de­cide the fi­nal.

“We will push to the end,” Dodig, the hero of the dou­bles vic­tory, said. “Noth­ing will stop us now.”

Cilic said he ex­pects a vic­tory against del Potro in a matchup of for­mer U.S. Open cham­pi­ons, “although it won’t be easy.”

“Men­tally, it’s eas­ier for me be­cause we have won to­day,” Cilic said. “Our matches were al­ways tight and some small de­tails could de­cide.”

Del Potro said he and Cilic are good friends on the tour, “but to­mor­row will be a dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tion.”

“He is play­ing re­ally good this year. He will be play­ing at home and it will be dif­fi­cult,” del Potro said.

Croatia’s only pre­vi­ous Davis Cup title was in 2005.

Ar­gentina is the only team in the Davis Cup’s 116-year his­tory to have reached four pre­vi­ous fi­nals and not won.

On Satur­day, the Croats dom­i­nated tiebreak­ers in the first two sets with Dodig mak­ing some spec­tac­u­lar shots and Cilic hold­ing his serve at key points.

The cru­cial break came in the sixth game of the third set on Mayer’s serve when the Ar­gen­tine net­ted a seem­ingly rou­tine fore­hand af­ter mak­ing a string of mis­takes in pre­vi­ous ex­changes. The Croa­t­ian duo con­verted the sec­ond of three op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“The sec­ond set tiebreak was cru­cial,” Cilic said.

Cilic closed out the match with a big first serve that Mayer could only send long. The Croats threw their arms in the air and got big hugs from the bench.

In the open­ing sin­gles on Fri­day, Cilic de­feated Del­bo­nis, and del Potro beat Karlovic.

Diego Maradona led thou­sands of vis­it­ing fans with chants and fran­ti­cally waved a scarf with the Ar­gen­tine flag from his ex­ec­u­tive booth at Arena Zagreb.

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