ZADAR: Croatia will meet France in the Davis Cup final after defeating the United States 3-2 as Borna Ćorić triumphed in the decisive match in Zadar on Sunday.
Ćorić defeated Davis Cup debutant Frances Tiafoe 6-7 (0/7), 6-1, 6-7 (11/13), 6-1, 6-3 to end a thrilling fightback by the Americans over the weekend.
Croatia will play in their third final in November, after winning the 2005 title and losing in 2016 to Argentina.
They also faced France in the final of this summer’s football World Cup, with Les Bleus winning 4-2.
“This is the most special day in my life,” Ćorić, the world number 18, told reporters as local media hailed him as a “hero”.
“I had bigger victories, but this feeling cannot be compared to any other, when the whole nation stands behind you,” the 21-year-old Croat added.
“Now we have a ‘Dream Team’,” Croatia coach Željko Krajan said.
Looking ahead to the final against France, Krajan said that the “goal is that everyone remains healthy”.
“We have good quality and good chances (to win)”, he said.
“France are strong… Davis Cup defending champions. But, we will get our chances and we should believe we will use them.”
Croatia have now beaten the US in all five of their Davis Cup meetings.
“I’m very proud of my boys,” US coach Jim Courier said.
“It was really an exciting day, with a lot of fight.”
Ćorić’s victory followed Sam Querrey’s surprise 6-7 (2/7), 7-6 (7/6), 6-3, 6-4 win over world number six Marin Čilić in Sunday’s first match which put the visitors level at 2-2.
“I was more nervous in this match than the first day. I had difficulties to find a rhythm… My game was not at the top level,” a visibly unhappy Čilić told reporters.
Čilić was warned by chair umpire Carlos Ramos, the same official who issued three code violations to Serena Williams during the US Open final, after slamming his racket to the ground.
He received only a warning as it was the first violation of the match.
“It was a certain frustration, I tried to run away from negative thoughts in such a way,” Čilić said of his outburst.
Both Čilić and Ćorić had won their singles matches on Friday, before the US cut Croatia’s lead to 2-1 as Mike Bryan and Ryan Harrison beat Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavić in a dramatic doubles rubber on Saturday.
Courier’s team were without two top players – John Isner, the world number 10 who stayed home for family reasons, and the injured Jack Sock.