Zagreb: The new Davis Cup winner will not be revealed until Sunday afternoon after Croatia and Argentina split the first two matches at the Arena Zagreb here.
Croatian Marin Cilic beat Federico Delbonis 6-3, 7-5, 3-6, 1-6, 6-2 and Argentinean Juan Martin del Potro needed four sets (6-4, 6-7, 6-3, 7-5) to beat Ivo Karlovic on Friday, reports Xinhua.
When Cilic took the first two sets after just 90 minutes, Karlovic and del Potro started the warm-up routine for their upcoming clash. But, it was more than two and a half hours later that they took to the court at the packed Arena Zagreb.
Cilic lost control of the match in the middle of the third set when he failed to convert two break points.
“It’s a shame that I didn’t break. I think I would finish the match in three sets. I had to be more aggressive. I shouldn’t allow him to get back in the match,” Cilic said of his collapse in the third and fourth sets.
Delbonis won that game and went on to win eight of the following nine games to take the first match of the final to the deciding fifth set.
Almost 3,000 Argentinean fans, with football legend Diego Maradona among them, went wild. Cilic was another pressure fighting the demons of the past.
It was the same scenario like the last two matches that he played in five sets that he ended up losing both, against Swiss legend Roger Federer in the quarter-finalsat Wimbledon and against American Jack Sock in the Davis Cup quarter-finals in Portland.
“I did think about those two matches and I knew that I had to regain my composure. Luckily, I did.”
Delbonis couldn’t maintain the level of play he put in the fourth set and lost his serve at the beginning of the fifth. With one more break, Cilic sealed the victory after three and a half hours.
“It was a very intense match. I think we both played a great level. I wanted this win, but Cilic played great in the fifth set,” Delbonis said after a great fight but disappointing result in the end.
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.
Del Potro kept Argentinean dream of the final win alive even though he had to fight for more than three hours.
“I am tired, more mentally than physically, but I think I will be ready for the rest of the weekend,” Del Potro said about his condition after the battle with Karlovic.
Croatian ace machine wasn’t fully satisfied with his performance on Friday.
“I didn’t play my best tennis and I still had some chances. I will have a day off and I will be ready to play on Sunday, if it would be necessary,” Karlovic said.
Croatian giant wasn’t fully impressed with the support he got from the crowd in his hometown, on his return to the national team.
“It was a nice atmosphere but I had a feeling like we were playing somewhere between Croatia and Argentina, on some neutral ground. I hope that this will change to our advantage in the next two days because we are playing at home.”
On Saturday, Karlovic will rest but two of his teammates will be fighting for a very important point that will bring one of the finalist one step away from the trophy.
It is expected that Croatian captain Zeljko Krajan will feature combination of Ivan Dodig and Marin Cilic in doubles match and his Argentinean compatriot Daniel Orsanic could stick to his nominated pair of Guido Pella and Leonardo Mayer to keep Del Potro fresh for the Sunday clash with Cilic.