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Croatia Holds Off United States in Thrilling Davis Cup Semifinal

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ZADAR, Croatia — Croatia is going to the Davis Cup final — but getting there wasn’t easy.

After eight hours of tennis on Sunday, Borna Coric ended a sustained comeback bid from the United States by rallying from a two-sets-to-one deficit to beat Frances Tiafoe, 6-7 (0), 6-1, 6-7 (11), 6-1, 6-3, in the fifth and decisive match of a topsy-turvy semifinal.

Croatia, which is seeking its second title, will visit defending champion France in the final, Nov. 23-25.

Earlier, the substitute Sam Querrey had rallied from a deep hole to keep the U.S. alive.

Querrey, who was playing in place of Steve Johnson, beat sixth-ranked Marin Cilic 6-7 (2), 7-6 (6), 6-3, 6-4 to even the best-of-five series at 2-2.

Cilic and Coric won the opening two singles matches Friday in straight sets, but Mike Bryan and Ryan Harrison began an American comeback with a doubles victory Saturday that was decided in a fifth-set tiebreaker.

But ultimately it will be Croatia — which won its only title in 2005 — going to its second final in three years.

Coric took an early break against the 40th-ranked Tiafoe in the fifth set, then broke again to conclude a match that lasted more than four hours.

When Tiafoe’s backhand landed in the net on Coric’s first match point, Coric’s teammates rushed out onto the clay court and swarmed around him, jumping up and down in celebration.

Earlier, Cilic wasted a 6-1 lead in a second-set tiebreaker then completely fell apart with a series of errors under pressure from Querrey.

“I just hung in there,” said Querrey, who jumped into the arms of the U.S. captain Jim Courier to celebrate. “After being 6-1 down in the tiebreak, I just played aggressively and from then on the pressure just builds.”

The chair umpire, Carlos Ramos, issued a code violation to Croatia after Cilic slammed his racket to the clay and mangled the frame late in the third set.

Since it was the first violation of the match, it was only a warning. No points were deducted and Cilic did not exchange any words with Ramos.

Ramos was the umpire who gave Serena Williams three code violations in her straight-set loss to Naomi Osaka during last weekend’s U.S. Open final.

Croatia extended its perfect record over the United States to 5-0.


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