Borna Coric and Marin Cilic started Croatia’s bid for the prestigious championship on a winning note by defeating Jeremy Chardy and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets on day one.
The hosts appeared to be all out of sorts in the first two rubbers. With the French contingent missing some of their most important players – Gilles Simon, Gael Monfils, and Richard Gasquet, the responsibility to take France through to their 11th Davis Cup title has fallen on the feeble shoulders of Chardy and Tsonga.
However, the two players proved to be no match for the strong Croatian battalion.
In the first match between Coric and Chardy, the Frenchman couldn’t do much to keep the 22-year-old at bay. The match lasted for a little over two hours and 15 minutes and resulted in a 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 win for Coric.
Chardy had 14 aces under his belt but he kept his first service win rate at 67%. As for his opponent, the Shanghai Masters runner-up won 80% of his first service points and had 23 winners in contrast to Chardy’s 8. The Croat also won four break points out a possible 13.
At the same time, both the players committed their fair share of unforced errors though; Chardy was slightly on the higher side.
The second match of the day was played between the two big guns – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and the World No. 7 Marin Cilic. With France already trailing behind, it was up to Tsonga to get his side back in the game.
The two players have quite an interesting past – they had met each other nine times before this fixture and Cilic led the 33-year-old by a slim 5-4 lead. The Croatian managed to retain that lead on Friday evening by sailing to a straight-set victory with 6-3, 7-5, 6-4, in two hours and 22 minutes.
Even though Tsonga was fairly impressive throughout the game, he couldn’t outperform Cilic. The 2018 Australian Open runner-up won three out of four break points and kept his first service win rate at an impressive 91%. Additionally, he doled out 26 winners while Tsonga could create only 17 over the course of the match.
Croatia now leads by 2-0 in the final and are just a win away from claiming their second Davis Cup trophy. On Saturday, we will see the doubles fixture featuring Pierre-Hughes Herbert and Nicolas Mahut taking on the experienced and strong team of Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavic.