Croatia captain Zeljko Krajan hails his Davis Cup dream team
Just like Marin Cilic was against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Friday, the 30-year-old world number seven was in commanding form to crush Lucas Pouille 7-6(3), 6-3, 6-3 to give the Croatia a winning 3-1 lead.Updated: Nov 26, 2018 12:09 IST
Croatia captain Zeljko Krajan hailed his “dream team” after Marin Cilic sealed a second Davis Cup title for the Balkan nation by beating France’s Lucas Pouille on Sunday.
Just like he was against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Friday, the 30-year-old world number seven was in commanding form to crush Pouille 7-6(3), 6-3, 6-3 to give the Croats a winning 3-1 lead.
He did not drop a set in his two singles while Croatian number two Borna Coric had given the favourites a flying start on Friday with an easy win over Jeremy Chardy.
Neither Cilic nor Coric dropped serve all weekend as Croatia emulated the 2005 side which beat Slovakia in the final.
“This is one of the best teams we’ve ever had - it’s like a dream team,” Krajan said. “After seven years on the bench (as captain) it’s an honour for me to be here.
“My singles players not only didn’t lose a set, they didn’t lose serve in three matches which is an unbelievable achievement and shows you the quality that we produced.”
Victory was especially sweet for Cilic who had bitter memories of the 2016 final against Argentina to banish.
In that match in Zagreb, he was two sets to love up against Juan Martin del Potro and required just one more set to give Croatia a match-winning 3-1 lead.
However, Del Potro battled back to win in five before Federico Delbonis beat Ivo Karlovic to give Argentina victory.
“I always sleep well,” the 30-year-old Cilic, who made his debut in 2006, said, when asked whether that Del Potro defeat occasionally kept him awake at night.
“I’m just proud of the team today after everything we’ve been through. This is definitely one of the best moments of my career. There was a lot of pressure but I played a hell of a match today and deservedly won.”
Cilic said the fact that the final was the last in the competition’s current guise added to the joy.
“It’s historic,” he said. “I have been part of this team since 2006. I have seen a few generations of players, I have seen a lot of tennis, a lot of wins, a lot of matches lost too.
“It’s amazing to finish a chapter of this kind with the way we played and the atmosphere that was in the team.”
France captain Yannick Noah, who will step down from his third stint in charge, said his team had been outplayed as they failed in their bid to win the title two years in succession.
“The guys did the maximum,” Noah said. “Sometimes the bar is too high. That’s my feeling.
“We lost to a better team. We did everything we could to be at this level with the Croatian team. We just went to their locker-room to congratulate them. I think they’re beautiful winners and they deserve it.”
First Published: Nov 26, 2018 12:07 IST