Davis Cup: Croatia leads Argentina 2-1 after doubles

  • Davis Cup: Croatia leads Argentina 2-1 after doubles

Davis Cup: Croatia leads Argentina 2-1 after doubles

The hosts, who defeated America and France on their way to the final, won the opening singles rubber when Marin Cilic, the world number six, eventually saw off Federico Delbonis 6-3 7-5 3-6 1-6 6-2 in three hours and 30 minutes. Nearly 3,000 Argentinean fans, with football legend Diego Maradona among them, went wild.

Argentina looked to be heading for defeat after Juan Martin del Potro and Leonardo Mayer were comprehensively beaten - 7-6 (7/2) 7-6 (7/4) 6-3 - by Croatian pairing Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig in Saturday's doubles rubber. "They deserve to win the tournament after eliminating the U.S. away and defeating France, but we made it really far after playing the whole year away from home".

Argentina joined the list of Davis Cup winners after losing all four finals they had previously contested and their dismal record in the title showdown appeared set to continue when Cilic came within a set of clinching Croatia's second title.

Cilic closed out the match with a big first serve that Mayer could only send long.

"[Cilic] won't have so much pressure since they lead 2-1", Del Potro said.

The result leaves Del Potro needing to overcome Cilic in Sunday's first rubber to tee up a decider between Ivo Karlovic and Federico Delbonis.

Del Potro cruised through the third set to get back into control.

Members of the Argentinean team will have an easier sleep after Del Potro withstood 35 aces from Karlovic and made most of 12 double faults from his towering opponent.

"After losing the third set, I was still confident I could win as he looked exhausted", Cilic said.

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

"I was calm, I hoped all the time that I could win and I did it", said Del Potro, displaying a bandage on his little finger on his non-racket left hand. "Thanks to all those who prevented me from retiring, I was very close to never playing again and, well, here I am".

"The second set tiebreak was crucial", Cilic said. "In the first two sets, he was serving unbelievably". "I was determined to start playing better".