Argentina completed a thrilling comeback on the final day of the Davis Cup final on Sunday in Croatia, coming back from 1-2 down and winning both final singles matches to claim a first-ever Davis Cup championship.
Marin Cilic and Juan Martin del Potro both won their singles on Day 1 to even the tie at 1-1. On Saturday Cilic and Ivan Dodig defeated Del Potro and Leo Mayer 7-6(2), 7-6(4), 6-3 to give Croatia the advantage, but on Sunday Del Potro beat Cilic from 0-2 sets down, and Federico Delbonis became the unlikely hero by defeating “Dr.” Ivo Karlovic 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in the decider.
It was Argentina’s first Davis Cup title in their fifth final after losing in championships in 1981, 2006, 2008 and 2011.
“It is a great honor to be a team captain to this group of professionals,” Argentina captain Daniel Orsanic told reporters. “What Del Potro did was amazing. He represents his country with so much pride and he also showed how good a player he is. His achievement borders the impossible, while Federico played a perfect match and was on top of every ball throughout the contest.”
Delbonis was happy to close the door on the Croats but said it was a team effort.
“I think we are all very good players, the team captain chose me but anyone on this team is always ready to step up to the challenge,” he said. “This is surely my greatest Davis Cup win for Argentina.”
Del Potro’s improbably comeback in the first singles on Sunday started from 0-2 sets down with a between-the-legs lob winner in the opening game of the third set. At the end of the third set Cilic could not stop the flow of unforced errors that handed Del Potro the set. In the fifth set Del Potro broke in the eighth game after the players traded early breaks, holding serve afterwards to end it.
“I am delighted to have won an important match for my team,” Del Potro told reporters. “I think I played much better in the third set, my forehand got better and so did my baseline shots. I was positive all the time and did not let my head drop after going two sets down. This was an emotionally exhausting match and one of the biggest wins of my career.”
Croatia team captain Zeljko Krajan said his team gave it their all.
“We were one set away from winning the title but we knew Del Potro was capable of staging a comeback,” he said. “He started taking risks when he had nothing left to lose, and that’s when he is most dangerous. Marin, unfortunately, did not serve in the final three sets the way he did in the opening two. We can only congratulate the Argentines and Del Potro for hauling them back into the match, we did all we could but unfortunately it wasn’t enough.”
Del Potro-Cilic Highlights:
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