Davis Cup final

Cilic beats Delbonis to give Croatia lead in Davis Cup final

The world number six required five sets to see off the 41st-ranked Argentinean as Croatia took an early lead in Zagreb.

Cilic beats Delbonis to give Croatia lead in Davis Cup final
MARKO DJURICA REUTERS

Marin Cilic beat Federico Delbonis 6-3 7-5 3-6 1-6 6-2 in an epic tussle in the opening singles rubber to give hosts Croatia a 1-0 lead over Argentina in the Davis Cup final on Friday.

Maradona lends Argentina a hand

Several thousand passionate away fans led by the Argentina’s World Cup-winning legend Diego Maradona cheered on their team in a packed Zagreb Arena but ultimately Delbonis succumbed to a player ranked 35 places higher.

Roared on by an equally fervent home crowd, world number six Cilic rained down a barrage of aces and service winners in the opening set, having broken Delbonis in the fourth game to edge ahead.

Cilic breaks

Cilic broke again in the 11th game of the second set and held serve to take a commanding 2-0 lead before Delbonis hauled himself back into the match.

The 41st-ranked Argentine saved three break points in the seventh game of the third set and claimed it with a searing forehand winner.

He could not miss in the fourth, racing through the set with a barrage of spectacular shots against a subdued Cilic.

The resurgent Croatian found another gear in the fifth set, however, breaking Delbonis in the second game and again in the seventh before he closed out the match in three hours and 30 minutes.