Lille (France), Nov 24 (IANS) Marin Cilic defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 in the second singles match to give Croatia a commanding 2-0 lead over France in the final of the Davis Cup, tennis’ premier international team competition.
Host France opted to play the tie on indoor clay, but the decision appeared to backfire as Croatia won both opening singles matches in straight sets on Friday night.
Although the match was played on clay, a surface that benefits the returner, the Croatian did not lose his serve once in two hours and 22 minutes of play and won in classic fast court style with one break per set, reports Efe news.
Tsonga, whose ranking has plunged to No. 259, got into trouble early on when he dropped serve in the sixth game to go down 4-2 and then lost the first set three games later.
He was more competitive in the second set and had two break points against Cilic’s serve that would have given him a 5-3 advantage.
But failure to convert those chances proved costly, as the Croatian went up a break at 6-5 when a backhand slice by Tsonga floated wide of the sideline and then held serve at love in the ensuing game to snag a two-sets-to-none lead.
Tsonga, who squandered three more chances to break Cilic’s serve in the third set, committed a double fault to get broken for the third time in the match and fall behind 3-2.
The Frenchman then appeared to be suffering from fatigue or injury in the sixth game.
He played out the rest of the contest, but Cilic clinched the victory with an overhead winner on match point.
Earlier in Friday evening’s first singles match, 12th-ranked Borna Coric defeated 40th-ranked Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-2, 7-5, 6-4.
The Croatians can clinch their second Davis Cup title with a victory in Saturday’s doubles, when Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavic will take on the French duo of Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut.
If France can stay alive, the tie will come down to Sunday’s reverse singles.