(July 17, 2016) BEAVERTON, Oregon – Croatia came back from an 0-2 deficit for the first time to beat the United States 3-2 to reach the Davis Cup semifinals on Sunday at the Tualatin Hills Tennis Center.
Nineteen-year-old Borna Coric ranked No. 54 in the world, beat No. 26 Jack Sock in a fifth and deciding rubber 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to seal the victory.
Croatia will host France in the semifinals September 16-18.
The United States came into day three of their Davis Cup quarterfinal tie against Croatia leading 2-1. Friday saw the U.S. get two singles wins and on Saturday the Bryan brothers lost for only their fifth time in Davis Cup play on Saturday.
Borna Coric served with confidence in the first set, Sock barely winning any points against his opponent’s serve. The Croatian went up a break but was challenged in the tenth game, having to save a break point before closing out the set 6-4.
The Croatian teen won 86 percent of first serve points and 100 percent of second serve points with three aces in the opening set.
In the second set Sock seemed to gain some momentum breaking Coric for a 4-2 lead. In the critical seventh game which lasted over 11 minutes, Sock saved five break points to hold for 5-2. He won the set 6-3.
Coric went up 3-0 to start the third set, Sock getting back on serve at 2-3 only to lose serve again to fall to 4-2. Coric held on to take a two sets to one lead by taking the third set 6-3.
Coric kept up his confidence breaking serve n the opening game of the fourth set. Sock went on a three game run. to reach 3-2. Coric made the crucial break in the ninth game and served out the match to win 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Jack Sock on Borna Coric: “I mean, he played a pretty solid match I thought overall. Obviously I had chances and opportunities that I didn’t really convert.
“I mean, that’s tennis. Some days it’s firing and feels great; some days they’re missing a little bit. Credit to him. He played a great match. First point to last played solid and deserved it today.”
Coric lost the second singles rubber to John Isner in straight sets on Friday and he was in a much better mood on Sunday.
“It’s completely different mood, honestly,” Coric said. “I have to be thankful for the Marin and also to the Ivan. They played unbelievable match in doubles. No one was expecting that really.
“Also Marin today winning in straight sets. He was playing for the three days. He played nine sets in two days, which is really not easy.
“To play like that today was unbelievable, and the effort from him. I was feeling good coming in the match. I was practicing a lot on the Saturday, doing some work on some things which I was not happy, you know.
“Today I was playing very good.”
What was the key to his better play on Sunday? “I think I was much more relaxed.” said Coric. “You know, I was hitting the ball. I was going for the points. I just wasn’t waiting for him to miss, because I knew I cannot play like that because he’s going to kill me with the forehand.
“You know, that was my tactic basically, you know, just to maybe try to stay as close as I can on the line and make good tempo, which I was doing very well.”
Coric has now won ties for Croatia in back to back fifth set rubbers.
“It’s not easy to play in a fifth match obviously,” he said. “You know, I have to be honest, I like that kind of situation. I like it more than playing on the Court 27 somewhere, you know, somewhere far away from the crowd, the people.
“I just like big stage more, when it’s more important. When I have more pressure, you know, when the expectations are big, I like those occasions. I think that’s what we’re training for. That’s what I like. That’s what I enjoy.
“Obviously that’s when I play best. At least for now. I hope it’s going to stay like that.”
Earlier in the day, Cilic, who coming into Sunday had a 5-0 record against the American, would deny the U.S. from closing the tie in the reverse singles. Cilic extended his perfect record over Isner to 6-0 with a 7-6(9), 6-3, 6-4 victory forcing a fifth and deciding rubber later on Sunday.
Isner gave all credit to his opponent.
“I felt like he played pretty well, to be honest,” Isner said to media. “The first set was critical. Felt like I definitely was the better player in the first set.
“Didn’t get paid off, but that’s on me. He came up with the goods when he needed it. That gave him a lot of confidence I think. He got his legs underneath him even more after the first set as well.
“I knew it was going to be a tough task. He was going to be feeling pretty confident because he played very well yesterday in the doubles. I felt like he carried that over today in the singles.”
“I felt from the beginning of the match that John (Isner) start(ed) extremely well, Cilic said in his post-match news conference. “He was not missing much; he was very aggressive; making a lot of returns back.
“He was covering most of the court. I was, in my service games, in trouble for a lot of times in that first set. I felt that I had to be every point very focused, very aggressive as much as I can to stay in there, not to have any loose points.
“I was just hoping that I’m going to get to the tiebreak to give myself a chance there to try to do something.
“During the first set I didn’t have any opportunities on his serve, and I felt that he played probably the best set in all of our encounters from the past. That was definitely a tough task, but I stayed in there mentally. I was very, very focused.”
For Cilic this was his third straight day playing, losing his opening singles on Friday to Jack Sock, after leading 2 sets to none, pairing with Dodig to win the doubles on Saturday and winning in reverse singles on Sunday.
Asked if his doubles victory gave him some confidence for Sunday’s singles, Cilic replied: “I just took some positives out of that match. I was very emotionally involved yesterday. I was very motivated. When you are losing that kind of match like I did on Friday, things can go negatively and you can go down.
“I tried to just lift myself up with the team. I was very much emotionally focused to be positive throughout yesterday’s match, and also today I felt it helped me to lift my game in critical situations.
“Especially when you play three days in a row you can get a little bit tired also towards the end and you can miss some balls that you are not regularly missing.
“So I was trying to be very focused with those emotions to stay in there throughout all the match.”
“It’s really unbelievable,” said Croatia’s Captain Zeljko Krajan of the comeback. “We are still, I mean, I would say shocked from this win. Looking back on Friday and being 2-Love down and then playing against Bryans yesterday, didn’t look very positive for us.
“I have to say honestly after yesterday’s win I was believing we have a good chance today, because I knew that Marin and Borna are for sure going to raise their level from Friday. Friday was much tougher.
“We been here just four days, and it’s tough to have four days to prepare for these conditions and time difference and everything.
“Today I knew they going to bring the quality on the court and it would be very tough for your team to win.”
This win for Croatia marked only the fourth time that the United States lost with a 2-0 lead. They are now 157-4.