LILLE (France), November 26: Marin Cilic clinched Croatia’s second Davis Cup title as he beat France’s Lucas Pouille 7-6(3), 6-3, 6-3 to give his side a decisive 3-1 lead in the final at Lille’s Stade Pierre Mauroy on Sunday.
The powerful world number seven was relentless as he snuffed out any hope of a famous French fightback – giving Pouille little chance of sending the showpiece into a fifth rubber.
Pouille, 24, did not have a single break point and despite pushing Cilic hard in the first set, he lost the last four points of the tiebreak and never threatened a comeback.
Cilic wasted four set points when Pouille battled back from 0-40 down at 2-5 in the second set but with his own serve rock-solid he calmly moved into a two-set lead.
The mainly French 22,000 crowd kept roaring their support for Pouille, but it was the Croatia contingent, decked out in their distinctive red and white, who would soon be celebrating.
Cilic broke for a 3-2 lead in the third set and then closed in for the kill when Pouille served at 3-5.
The Frenchman saved two match points from 0-40 but Cilic would not be denied and finished it off with a lob.
Immediately the 30-year-old former US Open champion was swamped by a swarm of his team mates as Croatia could begin the party after emulating their triumph of 2005.
Croatia’s sports-mad President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic was among the fans at courtside to savour a landmark title which offered some consolation after France beat Croatia in this year’s soccer World Cup final. (Agencies)