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Tennis

Argentina, Croatia set-up Davis Cup final

19 September 2016,Monday, 10:02



Argentina`s Guido Pella returns against Britain`s Andy Murray during the Davis Cup World Group semi-final singles. AFP

Argentina`s Guido Pella returns against Britain`s Andy Murray during the Davis Cup World Group semi-final singles. AFP

Paris, Sept 19, AFP

An emotional Leonardo Mayer led Argentina past defending champions Great Britain and into their fifth Davis Cup final on Sunday where they will face Croatia in November’s title showdown.

The 29-year-old Mayer, a late replacement for Juan Martin del Potro, secured Argentina’s place in their first final since 2011 with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 win over Dan Evans in the crucial rubber of their semi-final in Glasgow for a 3-2 victory.

Croatia, the 2005 champions, sealed their ticket to the November 25-27 final on home ground after Marin Cilic romped to a 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 win over Richard Gasquet and an unassailable lead over nine-time champions France in Zadar.

Argentina have a 3-0 winning record over Croatia in the Davis Cup, winning quarter-finals in 2002, 2006 and 2012.

Mayer’s victory, his 11th in 14 Davis Cup singles rubbers, ended Britain’s hopes of retaining the trophy they won for the first time in 79 years with a win over Belgium last year.

It also justified captain Daniel Orsanic’s decision to rest 27-year-old del Potro who had played for eight hours in winning a five-hour marathon singles rubber over Andy Murray on Friday before losing Saturday’s doubles alongside Mayer against the Murray brothers.

“I am very emotional,” said Mayer, whose ranking has slipped from 21 to 114 in the world.

“I haven’t been able to play because of injury so I am delighted to be back on form. I do not know what it is about the Davis Cup it brings out the best in me.”

Earlier Sunday, world number two Andy Murray had to leave the court for a medical timeout in the third set but returned to wrap up a 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Guido Pella which made it 2-2 in the semi-final.

“I have a lot of sharp pain in my right quad. I have to go and see what’s up and get some treatment,” Murray said.

“I need a break. I have played so much tennis, my body needs some rest.”

In Zadar, 2014 US Open champion Cilic bagged the all important point in the first of Sunday’s reverse singles, seeing off 30-year-old Frenchman Gasquet.

“When you look at the atmosphere, it’s an incredible feeling. It’s been a dream weekend for us,” said Cilic, who was unbeaten all weekend having won his opening singles against Lucas Pouille and teaming with Ivan Dodig for the crucial doubles on Saturday.

“I played incredible tennis. I produced a great performance for all the crowd.”

Gasquet, 17th in the world, was drafted in after Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils pulled out with knee injuries.

Croatia’s previous Davis Cup success came 11 years ago at the expense of Slovakia.

In the World Group play-offs, there were wins for Rafael Nadal’s Spain over India while Switzerland made light of the absence of Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka to see off Uzbekistan.

Also guaranteeing places in the World Group for 2017 were Russia, Australia, Canada, Belgium, Germany and Japan.

 

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