Trailing 0-2 to USA on the opening day, Ivan Dodig and Marin Cilic brought Croatia back into the match on Saturday with their doubles victory over Mike and Bob Bryan. But that left Croatia with a tough job of winning both the reverse singles on Sunday. In the fourth rubber, Marin Cilic defeated John Isner and the entire tie hung on the last game between Jack Sock and Borna Coric. The 19-year old Croat didn’t disappoint and took his nation into the semifinals with a historic victory. In the 116-year old history of Davis Cup, Croatia have never recovered from 0-2 and Coric’s feat turned him into an instant hero back home. Other semifinalists on last day were Great Britain, Argentina and France. Kyle Edmund, Federico Delbonis and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga were other stars, who stole the limelight in the crucial reverse singles on Sunday. Since semifinal ties have been scheduled for September, Andy Murray should be available for Great Britain’s home tie against Argentina. France and Croatia will fight for the final at some venue in Croatia.
In Portland on Sunday, Marin Cilic set the tone for a great Croatian comeback against USA. Though, Cilic’s was a straight-sets victory over John Isner, the tie was fought hard, especially in the opening sets. With Isner’s service doing wonders, Cilic could win just one point on the American’s first 25 serves. Regardless, Isner couldn’t break Cilic’s service and the set went to tiebreak. The fight was intense and both players had their chances. Cilic held a set point at 6-5 but Isner leveled and had a set point of his own. On Isner’s service at 9-9, Cilic won both points to win the first set 11-9. Victory came for Croatia in the rubber with Cilic breaking Isner once each in the second and third sets to prevail at 7-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Cilic’s win against Isner left the tie hanging at 2-2 and everything depended on the last rubber between Jack Sock and Borna Coric. The Croat had lost to John Isner in the opening singles but he raised his game against Sock and won the first set. However, the American equaled the set scores by taking the second. Later, Coric played dominant tennis and broke Sock’s service four times in third and fourth sets to win at 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. That result took Croatia into the semifinals and they will host France in September for a place in the 2016 Davis Cup final.
At Belgrade, Kyle Edmund helped Great Britain take an unbeatable 3-1 lead over Serbia and booked their passage into the semifinals. Edmund looked unfazed for most part in his match against Dusan Lajovic and began by breaking Lajovic’s service in the sixth game of the first set. He went into the second brimming with confidence and despite being pushed to a break point by Lajovic, Edmund rallied with a flurry of brilliant shots to win the second set as well. In the third set, Edmund broke Lajovic in the seventh game and moved closer to victory. But the Serb didn’t want to give in easily. He found a break opportunity with Edmund serving for the match. After winning on his own serve, lajovic held two set points on Edmund’s serve. But the Brit held firm to hold. That took the set to the tiebreak. The decider saw some long rallies and as Lajovic jumped to a 4-2 lead, the home supporters got ecstatic. But Edmund produced two brilliant shots and at 5-5, a rattled Lajovic committed two consecutive unforced errors to hand the victory over to Edmund after 2½ hours. Edmund’s win took Great Britain into the semifinals without Murray and although Serbia won the last inconsequential rubber, they only had disappointment.
There were two other heroes on last day; Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for France and Federico Delbonis for Argentina. Their solid performance helped their teams reach the semifinals. At Trinec, France recorded their first win on the Czech soil in 80 years, when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeated Jiri Vesely 4-6, 7-6, 6-4, 7-5 and sealed France’s place in the Davis Cup semifinals. World no.10 Tsonga fought off an early struggle in the match. He lost the first set and couldn’t prevent the second from going to the tiebreak. But once that phase was overcome, the Frenchman got hold of himself in winning the rubber 4-6, 7-6, 6-4, 7-5. With that, the last rubber inconsequential and they agreed to skip it.
In the last quarterfinal tie at Pesaro, Federico Delbonis’ heroics took Argentina to their 11th Davis Cup semifinal in the last 15 years. It was the same Argentinian, who had a chance 10 months ago to take his country to the final against Belgium but he lost the decisive rubber against Steve Darcis and his dreams vanished. On Sunday, Delbonis atoned for that lapse and defeated Italian Fabio Fognini in four sets for a place in the semifinals. Fognini was playing for third consecutive day and after 8 sets in singles and doubles spread over 5½ hours, he looked visibly tired. No wonder he lost his opening service game against Delbonis. That set the tone for the Argentinian, who took the first and second sets, although Fognini didn’t relent easily and took the third from Delbonis. Fognini also held three set points in the fourth. However, Delbonis saved them all and had his own match point in the 12th game. He finally coasted to a 6-4, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 victory after three-and-a-half hours and took Argentina into the semifinal.
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