At Glasgow, Andy Murray did his job well by winning the first reverse singles on Sunday to make it 2-2 between Great Britain and Argentina. Now it was the final rubber between Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer and Britain’s Daniel Evans that had to decide the 2016 finalist. Mayer then ensured that Argentina go to the 2016 Davis Cup final by defeating Evans. At Zadar, Croatia were lifted upwards by the magical Marin Cilic, who faced no difficulty in disposing of Richard Gasquet in three sets in the fourth rubber, making the fifth inconsequential. In the end, Murray’s first day loss to del Potro proved crucial since he had won the two other matches on Saturday and Sunday. For France, the absence of Gael Monfils and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga made the singles combination weaker. Now fifth-time finalist Argentina will travel to Croatia during November 25-27 for another chance of winning the Davis Cup, a trophy, they have never won despite so many final appearances. The Croats have won the Davis Cup once in 2005 on their maiden entry to the finals and they may like to record their second success in as many summit clashes.
Sunday’s reverse single rubbers began quite well for Great Britain with Andy Murray forcing the deciding fifth rubber. World no.49 Guido Pella couldn’t match Murray’s game and lost the first set in just 36 minutes. Murray began the second set by breaking Pella’s service in the opening game but the fatigue prevented him from taking the double break in the third game. Regardless, Murray took the 2-0 sets’ lead but early in the third set, the Scot called a medical trainer for a treatment on his upper leg. Then the Brit began to assert himself yet again and Pella only played a second fiddle. With Murray winning at 6-3, 6-2, 6-3, the fifth rubber became crucial.
Argentina captain Daniel Orsanic decided to replace their star player del Potro with world no.114 Leonardo Mayer against Daniel Evans. Orsanic didn’t want to risk fielding the tired del Potro, who had played for 8 hours and 2 minutes over the first two days. Britain’s chances of entering their second successive final depended on the performance of world no.49 Evans, who had almost sent 2016 US champion Stan Wawrinka out of the New York tournament, two weeks ago. But the Brit couldn’t come to his team’s expectations, despite showing early promise by taking the first set and raising Britain’s hopes. However, once Mayer found his touch in the second set, all hopes of a British victory were comprehensively stalled. The Argentine broke Evans to take a 3-1 lead in the second set and leveled the set scores, going into the third. A double break of serve in the third, gave Mayer an upper hand in the fourth set and he didn’t look back. Argentina cruised into the final with Mayer’s 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 win over Evans.
In the second semifinal at Zadar, Croatia finished the tie earlier. Their star player Marin Cilic played dominantly against Richard Gasquet in the fourth rubber and came away a 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 winner. That gave the 2005 Davis Cup champions their second chance to win the coveted trophy. Playing for the match formality, Frenchman Lucas Pouille took the inconsequential fifth rubber 6-4, 6-4 from Marin Draganja to make the score-line 3-2 for Croatia.
Marin Cilic capped an extraordinary weekend at Zadar’s Kresimir Cosic Hall with three victories beginning Friday. He defeated Lucas Pouille in Friday’s singles, won Saturday’s doubles with Ivan Dodig and brought Croatia an unassailable 3-1 lead with victory over Richard Gasquet in the first reverse singles on Sunday. When Argentina arrive in late November for the Davis Cup final, they must devise a method to counter the Cilic factor in their preparations.
The world group play-off matches were also concluded on Sunday with Switzerland beating Uzbekistan 3-2; Belgium defeating Brazil 4-0; Australia winning at 3-0 against Slovakia; Spain routing India 5-0; Russia beating Kazakhstan 3-1; Canada trouncing Chile 5-0; Germany defeating Poland 3-2 and Japan outplaying Ukraine 5-0.
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