Croatia completed a stunning Davis Cup comeback from 2-0 down to beat the USA 3-2 Sunday and advance to the semi-finals where they will face France.
Borna Coric clinched the quarter-final victory for Croatia with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Jack Sock in the fifth and final rubber on the hard courts at the Tualatin Hills Tennis Center in Portland, Oregon.
Croatia will now host France in September for a place in the final. It is the first time they have come back to win after losing the first two rubbers.
Coric started strongly against Sock, winning the first set in 36 minutes but then dropped a lengthy second set before closing it out.
He hammered 10 aces and won an impressive 70 percent of his second serve points in the three-hour, three-minute match.
He clinched the victory when Sock mis-hit a backhand which sent the ball sailing high and wide. Coric then grabbed his hat and threw it high in the air before rushing over to hug his teammates.
“Borna showed us the last few years how tough he is,” said teammate and former US Open champion Marin Cilic.
“Our team shows us how much spirit we have.
“Borna played amazing tennis here today, managed unbelievably to fight, to stay in there.”
Cilic kept Croatia alive earlier on Sunday with a straight-sets win over John Isner.
Cilic’s 7-6 (11/9), 6-3, 6-4 victory pulled Croatia level in the match at 2-2.
Sock had rallied from two sets down to stun Cilic 4-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in the opening match on Friday.
Isner followed up with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 win over Coric as the US swept into a 2-0 lead, but the mighty doubles duo of Bob and Mike Bryan couldn’t seal the deal for the United States on Saturday, falling 6-2, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 to Ivan Dodig and Cilic -- who replaced Marin Draganja with the tie on the line.
The US, whose 32 Davis Cup titles are the most of any country, were ousted in the first round each of the past two seasons and were seeking to reach the semi-finals for the first time since 2012.
“We knew it was going to be extremely tough,” Cilic said of Croatia’s chances of rebounding after dropping both opening singles.
“It’s very challenging to go 2-0 down against the United States, especially with the Bryans, but we believed that if we played well and we continued to fight we might get some chances.”
Cilic withstood 17 aces from Isner, firing 13 of his own and closing it out after two hours and seven minutes with a forehand winner.
Cilic had seized the opening set despite a formidable serving display from Isner, who fought off three set points in the tiebreaker and had one himself before the Croatian put it away.
Cilic’s first chance to seal it came on his own serve in the tiebreaker, but he belted a forehand into the net to let Isner level the tiebreaker at 6-6.
He finally secured the set on Isner’s serve, when the American sent a backhand spinning long from the baseline.
“Mentally it was definitely extremely tough,” Cilic said of the opening set.
“John was playing great tennis in that first set, I was having a lot of trouble with my service game and I was not winning almost any points on his service game. Up to the tiebreaker, he was the much better player.
“But I was there mentally, I was fighting every point. I felt the first set was the deciding one today.”