Marin Cilic secured Croatia their second Davis Cup after a 3-1 win over defending champions France as the world No. 7 player breezed past Lucas Pouille in straight sets in northern French city of Lille on Sunday.
Standing on clay court inside the Stade Pierre Mauroy with arms high in the air, Cilic waited for other team members to join him for celebration.
“It’s not every day that you become a world champion. For us, it’s a dream come true for this nation,” said Cilic in a courtside interview.
“We are so passionate. You can see that fans, they are enjoying themselves and I feel that in Croatia it’s going to be incredible too,” added the Croatian.
After Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut had combined to pull one back for France in Saturday’s doubles, Yannick Noah, in his last match as the captain, handed Pouille a chance in the opening singles on Sunday for a change to the lineup.
Noah had preferred Jeremy Chardy to Pouille in Friday’s opening rubber, but the 40th-placed player lost to Borna Coric in straight sets, which further intrigued controversy about Noah’s choice, considering that Pouille had won the decisive point for the 10-time winners against Belgium in last year’s final.
However, that victorious moment no longer lingered on this time, as the top-ranked player in the French squad failed to force a deciding rubber as he lost to Cilic 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-3.
After both players were dragged into a tiebreak without any break in a tense opening set, Pouille conceded 7-3 later on following his opponent’s precise backhand dropshot.
Pouille continued to slump as he suffered the first break in the sixth game. Despite saving three set points in the eighth game to stay in contention, the Frenchman let slide the second set afterwards.Cilic withstood almost one-sided support in the stadium for another break before building a 4-2 lead midway through the third set.
The Croatian ace sealed his win after hitting a high quality lob in the backcourt in the ninth game.Croatia last won the Davis Cup in 2005. With the latest triumph in the tournament’s final edition under current competition format, they become the 10th country with multiple titles.
The Davis Cup is set to adopt a new format from 2019 onwards, featuring 18 teams in one place contending for the title