Croatia has won tennis’ Davis Cup for the second time in its history after beating France in the final 3-1 in Lille.
Marin Čilić beat Lucas Pouille on Sunday in straight sets to seal victory for Croatia in what was the final time the Davis Cup will be played in this format.
The title is the second for Croatia after they won it 13 years ago when they beat Slovakia in the final thanks to wins from Ivan Ljubičić and Mario Ančić.
It was fitting that it would be Čilić who would bring home the victory. Two years ago in Zagreb in the Davis Cup final with Croatia needing just one more point, Čilić, saw his two-set lead overturned by Juan Martín del Potro with the Argentines going on to win the final.
It was not to be a repeat today for the world no.7.
After both players held serve the first set would be decided by a tie-breaker and when Čilić’s forehand return from Poullie’s serve stayed in, he brought up three set points. Čilić made sure of it when a cross-court drop-shot to take a 1-0 lead.
Čilić started to play more aggressively in the second set and was first to break in the sixth game to lead 4-2 when he forced Pouille to hit long after a powerful baseline shot. After failing to convert four set points at 5-2, Čilić claimed the second in the next game after a stunning forehand cross-court winner.
Čilić, now in control, kept the pressure on in the third set and broke Poullie in the fifth game after the Frenchman was forced into another error after powerful hitting from the baseline from Čilić. The Croatian was now in unstoppable form and would break again with a fantastic lob for the historic win.
Borna Ćorić got Croatia off to the perfect start in the final in the opening match on Friday when he beat Jeremy Chardy in straight sets 6,2, 7-5, 6-3.
Čilić then made it 2-0 when he beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also in straight sets 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.
France kept their hopes alive and forced the final into a third day when Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert beat Croatia’s Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavić in the doubles rubber 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6.
France 1- 3 Croatia
Chardy – Ćorić – 2-6, 5-7, 4-6
Tsonga – Čilić – 3-6, 5-7, 4-6
Herbert/Mahut – Dodig/Pavić – 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6
Pouille – Čilić – 6-7, 3-6, 3-6
The winning Croatian team – Marin Čilić, Borna Ćorić, Mate Pavić, Ivan Dodig and Franko Škugor. Coach: Željko Krajan.