Fair to say that 6 June was one of the better days for Croatian sports fans. In the space of just a few hours on Saturday, fans witnessed one of their own lifting aloft a French Open and UEFA Champions League trophy…a great feat for a nation of just over 4 million people…
On Saturday afternoon Ivan Dodig become the first Croatian men’s tennis player to celebrate a title at Roland Garros. Dodig, and his Brazilian partner Marcelo Melo, were too good for the world number 1 Bryan brothers, winning 6-7, 7-6, 7-5, to give the pair their first ever Grand Slam title.
“This is the crowning moment of my career. It was really a very interesting match against the world’s strongest pair. I hope Marcelo and I continue to play in the big tournaments, and that this is not the end,” said Dodig, who took away 225,000 euros in prize money.
Fans had barely settled down from Dodig’s win when Barcelona’s Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitić slotted past Gigi Buffon to give his side the lead in the UEFA Champions League final in Berlin.
“It was definitely the most important goal of my career. I am so happy and excited, but this is not the end for us, we have a lot more trophies to win,” Rakitić said after his sides 3-1.
Rakitić has become the 9th Croatian player to lift the UEFA Champions League, and only player to win it the season after winning the UEFA Europa Cup.