Marin Cilic gave Croatia a winning start in the Davis Cup final with a hard-fought 6-3, 7-5, 3-6, 1-6, 6-2 win over Federico Delbonis. However, Argentina got back into the tie through Juan Martin Del Potro who defeat Ivo Karlovic 6-4, 6-7, 6-3, 7-5 as the day ended with both the teams tied at 1-1.
Cilic broke Delbonis’ serve twice in the opening set to win it comfortably at 6-3 before breaking him once again in the 12th game of the second set to win it 7-5. Delbonis fought back, though. There were three exchanges of breaks in the third set as both the players failed to hold onto their service games and eventually Delbonis came out on top. With the momentum on his back, Delbonis broke the Croatian thrice in the fourth set and won it 6-1. However, it was Cilic who had the final laugh as he won the deciding fifth set 6-2 to give his side an early lead.
Juan Martin Del Potro got off to a quick start in the second rubber of the night as he broke Ivo Karlovic once to take the first set 6-4. The second set was a much more evenly matched affair, though. Del Potro racked up 17 unforced errors in this set as Karlovic won the set 7-6 on the tie-break. The Argentine cut down on his errors significantly in the third set and broke his opponent twice to win the set 6-3. Karlovic improved on his service game in the fourth set, but could not hold off Del Potro, who broke him once to take the set 7-5.
"I was nervous after I lost the second set, in the end, I had to take the longer road to victory.
"The atmosphere was fantastic. Our fans were great but the Croatian fans were brilliant too and showed us a lot of respect. It was an exhausting match but I think I will be OK for the rest of the weekend," Del Potro said after the win at the Zagreb Arena in Croatia, reported BBC.
Marin Cilic also praised the home crowd, who had gathered in numbers, and pointed out how his opponent raised his game towards the end of the match. He said, "The crowd helped me to stay in there, it was not easy.
"Federico played great tennis from the middle of the third set to the end of the fourth. Just at the beginning of the fifth, I tried mentally to stay in there and get that break, and it was a huge difference."
Three more matches remain in this tie with Ivan Dodig and Franko Skugor taking on Leonardo Mayer and Guido Pella later tonight. The most eagerly awaited clash, however, will take place after that game as Cilic goes up against Del Potro. In the fifth rubber, Karlovic will take on Delbonis.