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Friday, 31 July 2009

Croatia Reaches Davis Cup Tennis Semi-Finals, Beating the U.S.A for 3rd Time.






I had an opportunity to watch this match live. I arrived in Croatia just 2 days prior, however I already had a full hectic schedule planned and was sort of on a budget. It would have been cool to travel to the sunny resort town of Poreč and check out the sights and some world class tennis. Either way, we won. We seem to really step it up against the Americans for some reason. The Czechs are the next country on the schedule.






Source: Javno.com

Translation: Joseph Stedul
Author: Vanja Deželić
Photographer: Mario Ćužić

Published: July 13, 2009 09:02h


POREC, CROATIA - The final day of the Davis Cup match between Croatia and the United States has arrived, which is hosted by the beautiful city of Porec. There was simply no room for mistakes in the organization which took two great wins. It was up to Marin Cilic to defeat James Blake, and he did so by winning three sets. Now Croatia will play the Czechs who beat Argentina on their home soil 3:2.


MARIN CILIC - JAMES BLAKE 3:1 (6:3, 6:3, 4:6, 6:2)

The game-play of Croatia’s best tennis play was not up to scratch in the first match, who was having trouble against the visibly poorer player Mardy Fish. It was only after four and a half hours that he won the second point for Croatia. This was a warning for Marin, as well as coach Goran Prpic, who had to react and prepare for the match based on the psychological part. This was key, because it is undisputed that Cilic knows how to play, just like Blake does, but they needed to surpass some problems in the game under pressure, and things would then go on their path.


Even though Ivo Karlovic beat Blake, everything was very open, because Cilic seems to suit the American. They played against each other twice in their careers, and Blake won both matches – without a single set lost! So it was necessary to start strong so that the American would not regain his self confidence. Blake was also aware of his game-play against Cilic, so Blake started strongly too, and he pressured Cilic’s not too stable serve, but he did not manage to threaten him.



Cilic gambles away already won set

Whilst he was trying to take away the serve, he lost the serve. It was luck if you ask Cilic, because in the sixth game the American fell and gave the Croatian a 4:2 lead, an advantage that greatly increases your chance of winning that set. However, according to old tradition, Cilic lost his advantage and Blake came back.

It would have looked like things usually do, a tie break and a struggle until the end, had Cilic not brought something new into the game. He started to run up to the net more often, and he made a lot less mistakes. Blake having an injury, was not able to handle it, and he lost the serve and then the set. It finally happened, Cilic managed to win his first set in his career against the American.

The game-play that started in the first set continued in the second. Cilic brought his mistakes down to a minimum, even though he still missed what he should not have, and Blake looked more and more nervous, suppressed and missed even more than Marin – luckily. He was playing like a boxer who is losing his concentration, who has opened his guard and let Cilic hit him.

That is exactly what Cilic did. Luck again in the fifth game, another break. Cilic reached 3:2, and this time he did not gamble away his advantage and reached 4:2, peace in his head, peace on the court… Also, changing his racquet helped. At first he missed slightly more, but when it ‘melted in with his hand’, he played better and better. Blake did not have such luck, and his injury was becoming more and more apparent. He lost his second serve, the second set, and Cilic was off to a 2:0 lead in sets. The semi finals were in sight for Cilic.



Comeback in a great fourth set

If the semi finals were in sight at the end of the second set, they could be felt in the third set after less than 10 minutes, because James Blake, who received assistance from his doctor, lost his serve at the beginning. Marin Cilic had a 2:0 lead in sets, 2:0 lead in games, and he had the serve. However, things do not go easily for Cilic, and he is stubborn in the fact that he complicates his won matches.

He lost his serve, and allowed Blake to return, and then in the longest game of the match he managed to miss five break opportunities, and then the unavoidable happened. In the ninth game he lost his serve and handed the set over to the American. Blake could have only said “Thank you Marin” because it was fascinating on how easily he gave the set over.

Such game-play took revenge against him when playing Haas, when he lost an already won match at the end, but now it was obviously different, Marin was learning from his mistakes. He entered the fourth set nicely, and took Blake’s serve away in the fourth game and soon had a 4:1 advantage. During that time his opponent did not have any break opportunities. Frustrating for Blake, relaxing for Marin.

He did not give up any great opportunities until the end, and he took another serve from Blake and brought Croatia to the Davis Cup semi-finals. Now everything is possible, only the sky is the limit, and why would Croatia not hope to repeat 2005? The boys have the right to do so, they are mature, that is totally clear. So now they head against the Czechs at full strength and power to reach the great final.





Highlights of the Čilić-Blake match from the Sportska Dvorana "Zatika" in Poreč, Croatia.






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