Cilic opens against Delbonis in Zagreb
While Cilic opened against Delbonis, Ivo Karlovic is set to become the oldest man to play a singles rubber in a Davis Cup final in 96 years when he takes on Juan Martin Del Potro in the second rubber.
The 37-year-old, who was in the Croatian squad that won the title in 2005, will make his first appearance since 2012 after Borna Coric was forced to withdraw with a knee injury.
Cilic, meanwhile, arrives in Zagreb at a career-high ranking of No.6 following his victory over Kei Nishikori at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London. The Croatian failed to qualify for the semi-finals, but will be boosted by his three-set victory over Nishikori and hopes home advantage will give Croatia the edge.
“Playing now at home, it’s going to be extremely exciting for the fans, for the players, for both teams,” said Cilic. “I think the teams are going to make the big difference. The team energy, the team spirit from both teams, I think they were great this year. I know Argentina is going to be quite motivated for the final. We have to do the same in our team. Just hoping that our crowd is going to help us and lead us to the win.”
Coric’s withdrawal will be a blow to Croatia captain Zeljko Krajan. The 20-year-old was the hero for Croatia, winning decisive fifth set rubbers in their wins over Belgium and USA this season, but despite being named in the initial team, has been replaced by Franko Skugor, who will partner Ivan Dodig in doubles.
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