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Marin Cilic leads Croatia to Davis Cup final

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-09-19 10:38

Marin Cilic leads Croatia to Davis Cup final

Croatia's Marin Cilic reacts during his singles match against France's Richard Gasquet. [Photo/Agencies]

ZADAR (Croatia) - After beating Lucas Pouille on Friday, then partnering with Ivan Dodig to beat the Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert in doubles on Saturday, Marin Cilic completed his mission on Sunday, beating Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 in front of more than 7,000 supporters in Zadar, leading the Croatian team to a Davis Cup final for the second time in 11 years.

Marin Cilic was the man of the three-day match played in Kresimir Cosic Hall in Zadar, and he was doing his best to repeat what Ivan Ljubicic did three times during Croatia's historical Davis Cup triumph in 2005. But Cilic says he does not want to take all the credit for the win.

"For sure it's a great weekend. It's tough to put in words how well the weekend ended. It was a tough week for us because Coric was struggling with his injury and Dodig was not a hundred percent, but he managed to get in shape for the doubles. I was really motivated for this match. The stakes were high and I had to give everything that I had for all three days. From the first day I felt that I was playing great and today I played with great intensity. I'm happy that I was able to keep it throughout the weekend with the great help from our supporters," Cilic said on Sunday.

"I don't want to take all the credits because this was a team effort. Every member of the team was important and we had an agreement before the start of the season that we will make Davis Cup our top priority. So, every member of this team had a role in this great result. We are in the final and it will be a spectacle," the number one Croatian player added.

If Cilic was too modest to take credit for his heroics in Zadar, French captain Yannick Noah didn't have any doubts about the man he says was key to Croatian success.

"When I see the investment that Marin gave, it's inspiring for all of us. That's the lesson. He was dedicated and he did everything he could to help the team, not only by showing up but also delivering a great tennis. This is a big lesson for us and we will try to learn from that," Noah said about Cilic's influence on the outcome of the match.

Croatian captain Zeljko Krajan was also full of praise for the US Open 2014 winner.

"He was a true leader of the team. He showed his quality, won all of his matches and this is why we are in the final," the Croatian captain said.

The win against Richard Gasquet put Cilic on the second place in terms of singles Davis Cup wins for Croatia. It was his 21st win and he is now just two wins behind Ljubicic. He passed his mentor and former coach Goran Ivanisevic, who was presented with a Davis Cup Commitment Award on Sunday in Zadar, just before the start of Cilic's match against Gasquet. Cilic is next on the list to become eligible for this award when he will step on the court against Argentina in the final that will take place in Croatia from November 25 to November 27.

There are still two months of the season in front of Cilic and he says he remains confident.

"I've been very pleased how I played this weekend. I played every match on a highest level. This is a very good sign for the rest of the season. I hope that I will play five tournaments, four regular and ATP Finals in London. There is a final of the Davis Cup to look forward to. There can't be a better motivation for me," he said.

Where Croatia will host Argentina has yet to be decided. Zagreb and Split are two favorites to host the finals, as those 12,000 seat venues meet the ITF standard of minimum capacity for the final.

However, there might be a problem because both Arenas are already booked for the week of the Davis Cup final. Kresimir Cosic Hall in Zadar doesn't meet the capacity criteria, but International Tennis Federation can decide to allow hosts to play in a smaller venue if there is no other solution. They have done so a few times in the past, once in 2005 when Croatia beat Slovakia to win the Davis Cup in front of 4,500 people because no other bigger venue was available.

So, this is where Zadar see its chance. This was the second time that Croatian Davis Cup team played in Zadar and got its second win. Zadar has proven to be a lucky place, and maybe it will have a chance to work its magic again for Croatian team come late November.

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