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Croatia completes comeback to beat U.S. 3-2 in Davis Cup quarterfinal

The Americans led 2-0 after Friday, then dropped three straight to fall at Tualatin Hills


TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Croatia's Borna Coric (right) and Captain Zeljko Krajan come together after Coric's four-set win over Jack Sock on Sunday at Tualatin Hills Tennis Center clinched the Davis Cup quarterfinal for their team.You've all heard it before — “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

Croatia's Davis Cup team begs to differ.

The Croatians opened the three-day quarterfinal at Tualatin Hills Tennis Center with two straight losses in singles play on Friday and looked for all the world like they might be done after Saturday's doubles match.

But Croatia steadied itself on Saturday, saw Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig rally past Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan in doubles, then won twice more on Sunday in singles to clinch the best-of-five competition 3-2.

“It's really unbelievable,” said Croatia Captain Zeljko Krajan. “We are still ... shocked from this win. Looking back on Friday and being (down 2-0) and then playing against Bryans yesterday, didn't look very positive for us.

But “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 (Coric) are for sure going to raise their level from Friday.”

“You have to tip your cap to them because they played exceptionally well certainly from Saturday on,” said United States Captain Jim Courier. “You know, we're definitely disappointed, but we're proud of the effort — I'm proud of the effort that our guys gave.”

Sunday's singles matches opened with a battle between each team's top singles players; in that match, world No. 12 Cilic swept past world No.16 John Isner 7-6 (9), 6-3, 6-4 to tie the quarterfinal at 2-2.

Cilic fell to American Jack Sock — the world's 26th-ranked player — 4-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 on Friday, while Isner beat No. 53 Borna Coric 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 in their opener.

“I tried to just lift myself up with the team,” Cilic said about his Sunday victory. “We managed to turn it around. I feel that the team was there from the beginning and really pushing us and really bringing the good atmosphere.”

Isner, who has never beaten Cilic (Cilic is 6-0 against Isner), said his opponent just outplayed him on Sunday.

“I felt like he played pretty well, to be honest,” Isner said. I “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.”

Then, with the quarterfinal result hanging in the balance, Coric won the final match of the quarterfinal and clinched the victory for Croatia, defeating Sock, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. This was the second consecutive fifth-and-decisive singles win for Coric after winning in the final rubber against Belgium in March’s World Group First Round.

“To play like that today was unbelievable,” said Coric. “Today, I was playing very good. I think I was much more relaxed. ... 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.”

Sock was, obviously, disappointed with the result but gave Coric credit for his strong play.

“He played a pretty solid match, I thought, overall,” Sock said. “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.”

This was the first time since 1994 that an opposing country came back from 0-2 down against the U.S. In 1994, Sweden came back from 0-2 in the World Group Semifinal against the U.S. team of Pete Sampras, Todd Martin, Jonathan Stark and Jared Palmer.

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Unitnd States singles player John Isner stretches for a return in his Sunday loss to Croatia's Maric Cilic in the Davis Cup quarterfinals at Tualatin Hills Tennis Center.

Davis Cup Quarterfinal Results

Friday, 11:30 a.m. Singles A: Jack Sock (USA) def. Marin Cilic, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4

Singles B: John Isner (USA) def. Borna Coric, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3

Saturday, 1:30 p.m. Doubles: Marin Cilic/Ivan Dodig (CRO)

def. Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan 6-2, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4

Sunday, 11:30 a.m. Singles C: Marin Cilic (CRO) def. John Isner 7-6(9), 6-3, 6-4

Singles D: Borna Coric (CRO) def. Jack Sock 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4

What's Next

Croatia will face France at home in the World Group Semifinal on Sept. 16-18 for a chance to compete for the 2016 Davis Cup title. The United States will play in the World Group in 2017.