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Cilic Tops Blake to Clinch Davis Cup Tie for Croatia

July 12, 2009 07:00 AM
The all-Florida U.S. Davis Cup squad of James Blake, Mardy Fish and the Bryan brothers were defeated in the Davis Cup quarterfinals on Sunday at the Sportska Dvorana "Zatika" in Porec, Croatia.

Croat Marin Cilic clinched the tie three matches to one in the opening singles on Sunday on the red clay, stopping a late surge from Blake 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2. The Bryan brothers, Bob and Mike, scored the lone point for the U.S. in the Saturday doubles, defeating Roko Karanusic and Lovro Zovko 6-3, 6-1, 6-3.

"I think this was one of the best matches I've played," Cilic said after clinching the tie. "I was a little tired from the five sets on Friday, and today I played a lot of it on adrenaline, the crowd was carrying me throughout the match. I really played well, I felt good on court, moved really well, and even though I lost the third set I felt I was playing good and my tactics were perfect, so I kept going and eventually broke him."

On Friday Cilic beat Mardy Fish in five sets after his teammate Ivo Karlovic came from two sets down to defeat Blake in five sets.

A nation that only came into existence in 1991, Croatia won the Davis Cup in 2005 (beating the U.S. en route), and now the next generation of players has lifted them into the 2009 Davis Cup semifinals where they will next host the Czech Republic in September. In both their previous wins over the U.S., Croatia was led by former Top 10er Ivan Ljubicic.

Cilic was a junior player when Ljubicic led Croatia to its first title in Bratislava four years ago, and Croatia was also without its other star player, Mario Ancic who is suffering a recurrence of mononucleosis.

The U.S. was without its No. 1 player, Andy Roddick, who withdrew from the tie after sustaining an injury during the five-set Wimbledon final marathon against Roger Federer, forcing Blake to step up into the No. 1 spot.

"Marin has played great this weekend," Blake said. "He took care of business against Mardy, and he played a very solid match today. I felt I gave him a few too many chances, I played a little too passive, didn't take as many risks as I normally do, and he took advantage of that. Any time I left the ball a little short or in his strike zone, he took care of it, and that's why he's as good as he right now."
 

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