Davis Cup 2018: Croatia beat defending champions France in last ever final of old format
- Marin Cilic powers Croatia to Davis Cup triumph over France, ably supported by teammate Borna Coric.
The Davis Cup Final of 2018 pitted the same teams who had squared off against each other in the FIFA World Cup final earlier this year. The outcome was different though; Croatia emerged victorious this time, vanquishing the defending champions France 3-1 overall.
The top-ranked singles player in the final, Marin Cilic, powered Croatia home to a second Davis Cup title overall in the nation's history - the first one had come in 2005. Home court advantage proved to be of little help for France as their players struggled against both their singles opponents.
Cilic beat Pouille 7-6, 6-3, 6-3 and looked completely in control to give the visitors an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match tie.
France had forced a third day of play after Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert beat the Croatian pair of Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavic in the doubles match.
"It's not every day that you become a world champion," the 30-year-old Cilic said after his victory. "For us it's a dream come true, for this nation. You can see the fans are so passionate and they are here enjoying themselves. In Croatia it's going to be incredible too."
Croatia's 3-1 lead meant that the fifth match of the final, between Jo-Wilfired Tsonga and Borna Coric was a dead rubber. The teams mutually agreed to scrap it.
The first day of play saw Coric win his singles rubber against Jeremy Chardy, while Cilic put Croatia 2-0 up by beating Tsonga.
A visibly upset France captain Yannick Noah, who led his nation to Davis Cup glory in 1991 and 1996 and again last year as coach, criticized the changes to the event.
The Davis Cup in its present format is being revamped to an 18-nation World Cup-style event to be held in Madrid in November 2019, with the International Tennis Federation having agreed to a $3 billion, 25-year collaborative partnership with Kosmos, the investment group founded by Barcelona defender Gerard Pique.
"I said I'm disgusted and upset to his face. It's the truth. It's the way I feel," Noah told reporters while referring to his conversation with ITF president David Haggerty.
It didn't prove to be a fairytale ending for Noah, as he is set to be replaced by Amelie Mauresmo in 2019.
The final pulls the curtains down on the 118-year old tournament with its home and away format; the tournament next year will take place at a neutral venue. It remains to be seen how the new format is accepted by players and fans going into the 2019 tennis season.Published 26 Nov 2018, 11:39 IST