Borna Coric steers Croatia into Davis Cup final with France

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Borna Coric kept his cool to prevail in a thrilling winner-takes-all duel with fellow young gun Frances Tiafoe on Sunday and steer Croatia into the final of the Davis Cup for the second time in three years with a monumental 3-2 victory over the US.

The 21-year-old Coric came from two sets to one down to defeat the 20-year-old debutant Tiafoe 6-7(0) 6-1 6-7(11) 6-1 6-3 and finally subdue a remarkable fightback from the Americans, who had earlier levelled the tie 2-2 from two down.

Late understudy Sam Querrey had rewarded captain Jim Courier’s gamble by taking the tie into a decider in the fourth rubber, battling back from the brink of two sets down to beat home talisman Marin Cilic 6-7(2) 7-6(6) 6-3 6-4.

Yet with everything resting on the first duel between two of tennis’s brightest young ‘Next Gen’ men, Coric overcame the loss of two very contrasting tiebreaks to book Croatia’s final date against champions France.

“That was unbelievable. This is the most special moment of my whole life,” said a thrilled Coric on court afterwards.

The French, who defeated Spain 3-2 in the other semi-final in Lille, will have home advantage in the November showdown and hope to avenge their 3-2 loss to the Croatians in the 2016 semi-final.

The self-styled men’s ‘World Cup of Tennis’ will also see a repeat of the football World Cup final in Russia with the French, 10-times Davis Cup champions, again favorites to beat the Croatians, whose only victory came in 2005.

Yet for a moment, after Coric had capitulated 7-0 in the first set breaker and 13-11 in the third set decider, the shocked fans in the Dalmatian resort feared Croatia could be on the wrong end of one of the competition’s unlikeliest comebacks.

Coric, though, demonstrated why he is seen as one of the sport’s best prospects, holding his nerve against the equally brilliant young American and proving too solid over the final two sets as he finally prevailed after four hours six minutes.

At 2-0 down after Friday’s singles, there had not seemed the remotest chance of a US team without their top two players John Isner and Jack Sock recovering to reach a first final in 11 years.

Only when 40-year-old Mike Bryan and Ryan Harrison fought courageously to claw out a five-set doubles win on Saturday, were the Americans given even faint hope of contesting the last final to be staged under the traditional Davis Cup format.

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