Croatia clinch 3-1 victory over France to win Davis Cup Published November 25, 2018
Marin Cilic beat France’s Lucas Pouille in straight sets on Sunday to give Croatia an unassailable lead in the Davis Cup final.
In the last final before a radical reorganization of the venerable competition, Cilic won 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 6-3, to dethrone defending champions France and secure Croatia’s second Davis Cup, 13 years after their first.
But their hopes of comeback were quickly dashed.
The seventh-ranked Cilic struggled with his first serve in the opening set yet did not face a single break point.
Pouille, who replaced Jeremy Chardy after France captain Yannick Noah changed his line-up in a bid to force a decisive fifth match made repeated mistakes on his backhand. He managed to stay in contention on the back of his strong serve and some clever drop shots that surprised Cilic, but his Croat rival raised his level in the tiebreaker. Cilic won four straight points to seal the set, including a thunderous forehand pass that left Pouille stranded.
Pouille’s level of play then dropped drastically while Cilic kept up the intensity and broke for a 4-2 lead in the second set. Pouille managed to save four set points in the eight game with a series of good serves before Cilic held his next service game to seal the set with a cross court forehand.
Despite the support of the vociferous French fans at the Pierre Mauroy stadium, Pouille appeared powerless in the third set and dropped his serve again in the fifth game after yet another backhand error that sealed his fate. The Frenchman saved two match points at 5-3 but was forced to watch when Cilic unleashed a superb lob that secured another break and the title.