Cilic seals deal to stump Spain

HOME nation Spain is out of Davis Cup Finals after going down to Croatia in the quarter final overnight. In a hard-fought contest, it took a three-hour effort from Marin Cilic following a strong performance from Borna Coric, to get the job done. In one of the most anticipated clashes of the tournament, Croatia now faces Australia for a spot in the 2022 Davis Cup Final.

Taking to the court in Malaga, Coric stepped up first against Roberto Bautista Agut, and had a real fight on his hands. In a match that lasted an hour and 57 minutes, Coric was able to grind out a victory, 6-4 7-6. Having suffered his fair share of injuries over the last 18 months, Coric was able to get it done despite a passionate Spanish crowd, not being broken against the consistent Spaniard.

The Croatian said he was pleased with how he served, describing it as his best serving performance in some time.

“I was serving very, very well,” Coric said post-match.  

“I didn’t serve this well since probably Cincinnati. So obviously it’s much easier to play like that. I can relax more on the service games when he’s serving, because I know most likely I will hold my serve. So that’s made a difference. 

“I just think in general I was playing very smart. When I needed to attack, I did attack. When I needed to make a defence, I was defensive. I also mixed up the rhythm, as well, which is very important against him. I was just very pleased with my game, to be honest.” 

For the first time since its triumph in 2018, Croatia was able to field both Coric and Cilic, with the latter stepping up against Pablo Carreno Busta in the second match. Unfortunately for the Croatian, he struggled early, dropping the first set 7-5 as his serve misfired with seven double faults. Cilic turned it around into the second and third sets, winning the second 6-3 then earning an early break.

It would not be that simple to stroll into the semi-finals though, as Carreno Busta hit back and returned with a break of his own. After holding serve in the 11th game, Carreno Busta won the first two points to go 0-30 up, before Cilic held his nerve and his serve to send it to a tiebreaker. Yet again the tall Croatian was up against it, dropping four of the first five points, before silencing the crowd with six of the next seven points to win the tiebreaker 7-5.

In the remaining Davis Cup quarter finals that take place tomorrow, Italy faces the United States, while Germany locks horns with Canada.

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