Borna Coric fired Croatia through to the Davis Cup Finals for a fourth time after ending Austria’s hopes of a final day fightback in their 2023 Qualifier in Rijeka.
The World No. 23 saw off former World No. 3 Dominic Thiem 7-6(3) 6-2 in one hour and 45 minutes to prevent Jurgen Melzer’s visiting side from gaining any further momentum after Lucas Miedler and Alexander Erler recorded a surprise triumph over the home side in the doubles.
“It was not easy, but I knew that this is Davis Cup, and this is tennis, and that anything can happen,” said Coric of ending Austria’s resurgence. “I was ready after the doubles match. I was pretty nervous, but I had time to prepare myself for the match. I came out on the court and I was playing great tennis today.”
Austrian’s doubles pair upset Nikola Mektic and Ivan Dodig, the doubles World No. 8 and No. 11, respectively, 6-3 7-6 (11) in one hour and 50 minutes to deny a Croatian clean sweep after the two Borna’s – Borna Coric and Borna Gojo – had won their singles on the opening day.
That left Thiem with an opportunity to take the contest to a deciding fifth match on Sunday afternoon, but the 2020 US Open champion, still on the comeback trail from a wrist injury, struggled for consistency against Coric.
While Coric proved watertight, Thiem threw in 38 unforced errors – to Coric’s 23 – and, though he managed to refocus and hit straight back after gifting Coric the first break of the match in the seventh game, the Croatian ran away with the first set tie-break.
Coric upped the ante in set two as Thiem’s error count mounted, ultimately completing a fifth successive Davis Cup victory on home soil for Croatia in front of their delighted fans.
“I enjoyed the fight, it was great,” said Coric. “It was great to play in front of the home crowd. I was very happy with the way I was playing on the important points. I was very aggressive so I’m super happy with the win.”
“It’s a huge disappointment,” lamented Thiem. “Obviously my match today, but also the fact that I couldn’t help to give my team, my country a point. We lost 1-3, I lost two points out of that, so it’s not a good weekend for me, so the disappointment is big right now.”
Erler and Miedler produced a steely display in the first match of the day. They seized their only break point opportunity early in the opening set and held their nerve in the crucial moments as Dodig and Mektic failed to capitalise on any of their three break point opportunities.
“They’re a really good doubles team and we’re just happy that we could beat them,” said Miedler.
Austria, which played at the Finals in 2021, will return to World Group I on 16-17 September in a clash against one of the winning nations from this weekend’s World Group I playoffs.
Chile Uses Home Crowd To Surge Past Kazakhstan
Cristian Garin suffered a tough blow on Saturday when he won just four games against Kazakhstan’s Timofey Skatov to begin his country’s Davis Cup Qualifiers tie. But the former World No. 17 flipped the script in a major way Sunday.
In a battle of No. 1 singles players, Garin clawed past Alexander Bublik 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in one hour and 59 minutes to send Chile to the Davis Cup Finals.
“After my defeat yesterday, the captain lifted me up together with the team, with positive attitude, with good motivation. And that helped me come out today the way I did, improving my level,” Garin said. “The doubles, the way they played today, gave me the extra motivation as well.”
Bublik had defeated Garin in straight sets last year in Florence, but that clash was on hard courts. This time, Garin was on his preferred clay with the backing of his home crowd.
From the early points of the match those in attendance at Campus Trentino urged their man on, with constant singing to help give him any extra energy they could.
“I haven’t played Davis Cup in Chile for a long time,” Garin said. “It was a very good environment with the public. It’s nice to qualify for the Finals playing at home. I am very proud of what we have achieved as a team.”
That proved critical to his quick start, as Garin rediscovered his form to play consistent tennis throughout the first set. Bublik struck back in the second set with sublime shotmaking, leaving the Chilean frustrated and keeping the crowd at bay.
The Kazakhstani, who was trying to keep his country’s hopes alive, made a critical mistake earlier in the decider. Bublik double faulted down the T at 1-2 to concede a service break to Garin, and that was the only advantage he needed.
The 26-year-old held to love when he served for the match. And after a tense moment waiting for the chair umpire to check a ball mark following a final forehand, the entire Chilean team swarmed the court to celebrate with Garin, who hit 16 winners in his victory.
It was the clinching triumph for Chile because earlier in the day, Tomas Barrios Vera and Alejandro Tabilo defeated Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov 6-4, 7-5 under equally raucous conditions.
“The support of the public was felt at key moments. The rivals felt that pressure,” Tabilo said. “The fans knew when to support and that was essential. Being able to play here in Chile doesn’t happen so much and fortunately we were able to take advantage of it.”
– This story features contributions from DavisCup.com.