Saturday, 4 January 2020

ATP Cup Sydney: Croatia Tennis Team Tops Austria 3:0

January 5, 2019 - The Croatia national tennis team is off to a great start in Sydney for the first-ever ATP Cup, topping Austria 3:0 in their first round of games on Saturday.

At the premiere of the ATP Cup, in the first round of Group E in Sydney, Croatian tennis players defeated the Austria national team 3:0! 

The winning team was decided already after the singles matches - first Marin Cilic celebrated with a comeback against Dennis Novak (108th on ATP list) - 6:7 (4), 6:4, 6:4, and Borna Coric surprised the 4th best tennis player in the world, Dominic Thiem - 7:6 (4), 2:6, 6:3. 

In the doubles match, Ivan Dodig and Nikola Mektic were better than Austrian Jurgen Melzer and Oliver Marach 7:6 (4), 6:2.

Marin lost the first set to Novak, but found a way to celebrate in the end.

"It was an extremely difficult match, a real thriller. Dennis played at a high level. It was a great match to start the new season,” Marin said after the win.

Borna, who lost six matches to finish last season, opened 2020 with a massive win against Thiem. It was Borna’s second win in their five meetings thus far, and his 12th career win against one of the top 10 players in the world last year.

"I'm really happy. Honestly, I didn't know what to expect from this performance, especially since I didn't play my best tennis last season. Well, it was great. Even though I lost the second set, I felt I was playing really well. In the third set, I played bravely on important points, and in the end, it paid off. This success will further fill me with confidence for the matches to come,” Borna said with special thanks to the Croatia fans in attendance.

"Thanks to them for their support, they carried me through the whole match, and especially at the end of the match, when it was the hardest for me."

The key to Croatia’s doubles victory was winning the first set in which Dodig and Mektic were losing 5:3. At 5:4, they saved a set-point and after the tie-break lead 1:0. They had no problem in the second set.

“Despite the final 3:0, the whole round against Austria was extremely uncertain and interesting, with just the singles matches lasted for almost six hours. In the doubles, the first set was also exciting, but it was easier for us in the second,” Nikola Mektic said.

Croatia will play their second match on Monday against Poland, who lost to Argentina 2:1 in the first round.

Source: HTS

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Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Davis Cup Madrid: Croatia Knocked Out After Loss to Spain

November 20, 2019 - The Croatia tennis team will not defend their title at the Davis Cup this year. 

Gol.hr reports that the Croatia tennis team registered their second defeat in the final tournament of the new Davis Cup format. After losing to Russia 0:3 on Monday, the title defenders lost to Spain with an unreachable result of 0:2.

Roberto Bautista Agut scored the first point for Spain, beating Nikola Mektic 6:1, 6:3 in just 57 minutes of play. In the second match, Rafael Nadal, the world’s best tennis player, defeated Borna Gojo 6:4, 6:3 in 30 minutes.

Croatia was left with no prospect of reaching the quarterfinals, and thus without a chance to defend the title of Davis Cup.

Croatia needed a 3:0 win against Spain to stay in the top eight. However, without Marin Cilic, who did not travel to Madrid, and without Borna Coric, who retired from the tournament today due to exhaustion, it was nearly impossible to expect a 3:0 victory over Spain, led by Rafael Nadal.

After Coric pulled out on Tuesday, Nikola Mektic, who made his last singles appearance over two and a half years ago in the Cincinnati qualifiers, was chosen to save the day. 

Mektic and Bautista Agut, currently the ninth-best tennis player in the world, had never played one another before tonight. 

The Croatian tennis player won the first game, but that was all he showed in the rest of the set. With three breaks in 26 minutes, the Spaniard won the set with a score of 6:1. Agut continued his great series in the second set, receiving three games in a row. Mektic reduced it to 1:3, breaking Agut's nine-game streak.

By the end of the set, the 30-year-old Zagreb native no longer lost his serve, but failed to make up for the break and ended the set with a score of 6:3 for the Spaniard.

In the second match, the 21-year-old debutant for Croatia solidly resisted Nadal, especially in the first set.

Gojo held on to 4:4 in the first set, saving four break points - three in the first game and one in the seventh game. Unfortunately, in the ninth game, Nadal took away Gojo’s serve and then safely served for 6:4 after 45 minutes of play. In the second set, he lost his serve in the first and ninth games for the final score of 6:3.

Recall, the young Croatian tennis player, who played for American Wake Forest University, joined the Croatia team after Marin Cilic’s injury. 

Croatia will try to win a consolation point when Ivan Dodig and Ante Pavic face Marcel Granollers and Rafael Nadal in the final doubles match. 

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Monday, 18 November 2019

Davis Cup Madrid: Russia Tops Croatia 3:0 in First Round

November 18, 2019 - The Davis Cup debuted its new format on Monday in Madrid. Croatia kicked off their competition in Group B against Russia. 

The Croatia national tennis team lost the first duel on Monday, when Borna Gojo, a 21-year-old debutant for Croatia, was defeated by Andrey Rublev 3:6, 3:6 after an hour and eight minutes of play.

Borna Gojo (ATP-280), who only made his way into the world of professional tennis three months ago, had a poor start to the match against the favored Rublev, the 23rd best player in the world. He lost his service in the first game, but managed to collect himself and immediately return with a break. However, the remainder of the first set was a one-way street in which the Russian tennis player took Gojo’s serve two more times.

At the start of the second set, Gojo had two consecutive breaks but did not use them. Rublev then came to a break and routinely concluded the match in his favor.

Gojo played for American Wake Forest University and joined Croatia after Marin Cilic dropped out due to injury. Interim coach Franko Skugor opted for Gojo because he felt he could do better on a faster basis than Nino Serdarusic.

“I’m not satisfied, I had some chances, but I didn't serve well enough. My serve was not at the level as usual, and especially not at the level for this match. I also had occasions where I could be more aggressive, but I was nervous, so I played safely.  We will get the positive things out of this match and try to be as good as possible on Wednesday," Gojo said after his performance.

In the second match, Croatia’s best tennis player Borna Coric lost to Karen Khachanov 7:6(4), 4:6, 4:6.

Coric opened the match well, won the first set, but unfortunately lost his energy in the continuation of the match due to recent virus. Hachanov thus turned the result in his favor.

There was not too much excitement in the first set until it was 3:3 and both tennis players held their serves. Khachanov had three consecutive break points to lead 4:3. However, Borna managed to even it at 4:4. The set was then decided in the thirteenth game. Hachanov led 2:0 with a mini break, but Borna returned and had a tiebreak at 7:4.

In the second set, Khachanov managed to equalize, and the key was the seventh game in which Khachanov broke Coric for the 4:3 lead. In the next game, Borna had the opportunity to get back the game he lost, but failed.

Coric dwindled in the third set. In the fifth game, he saved four break points, but in the seventh game, he struggled and Khachanov came to a great advantage, which he defended until the end of the match.

It was their third encounter and the first win for the 17th best tennis player in the world. Coric won his first two matches in 2017 in Rotterdam and Milan.

“I played the first set great, I even surprised myself a little, the second set, in my opinion, I was better, I didn't break him at 3:3 and then everything went downhill. My strength fell and I could no longer get anything out. I’m sorry about the second set where; I thought I had the match in control, two, three points decided the match and he prevailed. I just didn't take my chances,” Coric said.

Ivan Dodig and Nikola Mektic played in the doubles match that followed against Khachanov and Rublev and lost 7:6 (3), 6:4. Thus, Croatia lost 0:3 to Russia on day one.

At this year's Davis Cup, eighteen teams are divided into six groups of three teams. The winners of the groups and the two best runner-up teams will advance to the quarterfinals. All matches are played in a format with two singles matches and one doubles match.

Croatia's group also includes Spain, led by the world number one tennis player Rafael Nadal.

Spain and Russia meet tomorrow, and in the last match in the group, the title defender Croatia will play against Spain on Wednesday.

Source: HRT

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Saturday, 21 September 2019

St. Petersburg Open: Borna Coric Books Spot in Final

September 21, 2019 - Croatian tennis player Borna Coric is in the final of the St. Petersburg Open!

HRT reports that Borna Coric topped Portuguese player Joao Sousa (ATP-64) in the semifinal of the St. Petersburg Open with another comeback of 3:6, 7:6 (5), 6:1 after two hours and 18 minutes of play.

In St. Petersburg, Coric celebrated against Hungarian player Marton Fuscovis and Norwegian player Casper Ruud after losing the first set, and managed to do the same against Sousa. Borna has thus secured this eighth ATP final and hopes to claim his third title after Marrakesh and Halle.

Coric entered the match poorly and Sousa led at 4:1 and 5:2. Down 3:5, Coric came to the 0-40 lead and had two chances to break Sousa on his serve to get back in the set, but missed it all. Coric's struggle to break his opponent continued in the second set, and at 7:4, he had his seventh chance to break Sousa and also a set point which he did not use. However, in the next game, Coric showed his worth. 

In the tie break, Coric found a way to take Sousa’s serve and equalized 1:1 in sets.

In the first game of the third set, Coric took Sousa’s serve, which happened after his 14th chance to break him in the match. Borna then managed his second break point and led 4:1 to finish the match easily.

This was the second match between Coric and Sousa and the second victory for the Croatian tennis player.

Russian Daniil Medvedev and Belarusian Egor Gerasimov are playing In the other semifinal match on Saturday.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Friday, 20 September 2019

St. Petersburg Open: Borna Coric Advances to Semi-final

September 20, 2019 - Not a bad day for Croatian tennis players after Borna Coric and doubles team Nikola Mektic and Franko Skugor advance to the semifinal of the St. Petersburg Open in Russia.

HTS reports that Borna Coric is in the semifinal of the ATP tournament in St. Petersburg! Croatia’s best tennis player achieved another turnaround and celebrated in three sets, this time in action against Norwegian player Casper Ruud, 60th on the ATP ranking - 3:6, 7:5, 6:3.

Ruud was up by a set and had a 3-2 lead in the quarter-final, with the serve in the second set, but the Zagreb native once again managed to find a way to victory.

Coric took the second set after he broke his opponent in the 6th and 12th games. The sixth game of the third set was crucial for Coric when he took away Ruud’s serve for the third time in the match. Borna managed seven aces during the match and achieved a first-serve percentage of 60 percent. 

This success has moved Coric up one position on the ATP ranking, making him the current 14th best tennis player in the world. To reach the final, Coric will play against the winner of the match between Kukuskin - Sousa. 

Nikola Mektic and Franko Skugor, the first-seed in St. Petersburg this week, also won a spot in the semifinal on Thursday. In the first round, the Croatian duo was better than Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis and Serbian Janko Tipsarevic (6:3, 6:4), and topped American Nicholas Monroe and Belarusian Andrei Vasilevski (who didn’t have a single break point in the match) in the quarterfinal - 6:4, 6:2.

Mektic and Skugor will play Igor Zelenay and Divij Sharan in the semifinal on Saturday. 

Recall, Donna Vekic lost in the round of 16 at the Japan Women's Open on Thursday against Misaki Doi. 

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Monday, 16 September 2019

Croatia Tennis Team to Face Austria, Argentina in Sydney for First Ever ATP Cup

September 16, 2019 - The Croatia tennis team, composed of Marin Cilic and Borna Coric, will play in Group E of the ATP Cup, set to premiere in Australia next January. Croatia will face the teams of Austria and Argentina, which was determined in a draw for the competition held on Monday in Sydney.

Slobodna Dalmacija writes that as the ATP ranking of tennis players in the singles competition determines which countries will participate in the team competition, Croatia will be led by two of the best-ranked Croatian tennis players - Borna Coric and Marin Cilic.

The best Austrian tennis player is Dominic Thiem, who is ranked 5th in the ladder released on September 9, with Dennis Novak holds the 122nd position. For Argentina, the best-ranked player is Diego Schwartzman, who was 16th on September 9, and Guido Pella, who is in 22nd place.

Twenty-four countries will participate in the ATP Cup, which will be held from January 3 to 12 in Sydney, Perth, and Brisbane. The tournament finishes eight days before the Australian Open (January 20 - February 2), the first grand slam tournament season.

The countries that have qualified for the ATP Cup based on the September 9 ATP ranking include Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, Russia, Australia, Germany, Greece, Japan, Italy, France, Belgium, Croatia, Argentina, Georgia, South Africa, USA, Canada, UK, and the host country Australia. Five more countries will be determined on November 13, also based on the ATP ranking.

Twenty-seven of the top 30 ATP players agreed to participate, including Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Andy Murray, whose protected ranking allowed Great Britain to qualify for the competition.

The competition will begin with the group stage (six groups with four teams each) followed by the quarterfinal, then the semifinal and the final. Each pair will play two singles matches and one doubles match. The two players with the best ranking from each country participate in the competition, but if changes are needed, an additional player can jump in. 

The competition grants 750 ATP points to the winner of the singles competition, which is less than the grand slam tournament (2,000 points), Masters (1,500) and Masters 1,000, but more than other tournaments. The prize pool is $15 million, or about 13.5 million euros.

Screenshot 2019-09-16 at 11.12.28.png

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.

Friday, 30 August 2019

US Open: Marin Čilić, Petra Martić, Donna Vekić Move into 3rd Round

August 230, 2019 - Marin Čilić, Petra Martić, and Donna Vekić have advanced to the 3rd round of the US Open.

HTS reports that Petra Martić’ secured another win at this year's US Open and was the first Croatian to go through on Thursday after her success against Romanian qualifier Ana Bogdan (152nd in the WTA list) - 6:2, 6:4.

Petra won the first set fairly quickly after an initial lead of 4:0. In the second set, she led with 4:2, after which she lost her serve and allowed Bogdan to level at 4:4, though this was the only time in the match. However, for the fourth time in the match, Petra reached a break which turned into a victory and her first time in the 3rd round of the last Grand Slam tournament of the season. Petra will play against the 11th best tennis player in the world, Latvian Anastasia Sevastova, to reach the round of 16. This will be their third encounter, with each player having one win so far.

Donna Vekić achieved her second victory at this year's US Open on Thursday after defeating 34-year-old Estonian Kaia Kanepi (82nd in the WTA list) - 7:5, 6:3.

Vekić had some difficulty in the first set, in which she lost her first strike on two occasions. Kanepi led 3:1, and Donna saved a set point at 4:5 at her serve to take the set after three wins in a row for 1:0. The second set was far easier for Donna, who used two breaks (in the third and ninth game) to confirm her second time in the 3rd round of the US Open. Recall, Donna made it for the first time in 2017.

With this win, Donna jumped to 22nd place in the WTA ranking (one ahead of Petra Martić), which equals the best ranking of her career. To enter the round of 16, Donna must play against Ukrainian Julia Putinetseva, the 39th best tennis player in the world.

Marin Čilić passed into the 3rd round of the US Open, though he didn’t get there without a fight. The former winner of this tournament completed the task against German tennis player Cedric-Marcel Stebe (256th in the ATP ranking) in the second round - 4:6, 6:3, 5:7, 6:3.

Čilić entered the match slower and lost his serve right away in the first game. He quickly came back with a break, but Stebe once again used Marin's mistakes and took away his serve in the ninth game to win the first set.

Marin continued to play and easily won the second set, but in the third, the Croatian faced new problems. Namely, Stebe led 4:1 after he broke Čilić in the fourth game, though Marin won six of the next seven games and still found a way to win the third set. The fourth set saw the result equal at 3:3, though Marin secured the win after two consecutive breaks. Marin’s victory saw 48 winners, but 52 simple errors (Stebe 33). Marin will now play against 14th-seeded American John Isner, against whom he has eight wins in 11 games played.

Recall, Borna Ćorić pulled out of the tournament due to a back injury and never played his 2nd round match. 

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

US Open: Marin Čilić, Borna Ćorić, Petra Martić, Donna Vekić into 2nd Round

August 28, 2019 - Marin Čilić, Borna Ćorić, Petra Martić, and Donna Vekić will play in the 2nd round of the US Open. 

HTS reports that Petra Martić was the first to advance to the 2nd round of the US Open, the last Grand Slam tournament of the season in New York. Still, it was no easy match for the 28-year-old. Slovenian Tamara Zidanšek, the 66th best tennis player in the world, took the match to the third set against the 22nd seed of the tournament, though Petra was untouchable for the final 6:4, 4:6. 6:1. 

However, Croatia’s best female tennis player could have settled the duel in two sets, as she had an advantage of 5:2, but Zidanšek equalized after a powerful series. Petra totaled five aces and a first-serve percentage of 58%. She also used five of 13 break points. In the second round, she will play against Romanian qualifier Ana Bogdan, 152nd in the WTA ranking. 

Borna Ćorić successfully opened this year's appearance at the US Open. The 22-year-old Zagreb native moved past Russian qualifier Evgeny Donskoy (122nd in the ATP ranking) - 7:6 (7), 6:3, 6:0. Donskoy did not reach a break point throughout the match, but was dangerous in the first set where he had a 4:1 advantage in a tie-break, and at 7:6, a set point. After he won the first set, Borna went on to win the match. Donskoy held on to 3:3 in the second set, and was out of the game until the end. Borna (using four of seven break points) managed two aces and a first-serve percentage of 60%. He also achieved 31 straight points with 28 unforced errors (Donskoy 33). His next rival will be Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov, currently the 78th best tennis player in the world. 

We saw an excellent performance by Marin Čilić at the start of this year's US Open, which saw the 22nd seed and former winner of the tournament (2014) overcome Slovakian Martin Klizan (83rd in the ATP ranking) - 6:3, 6:2, 7:6 (6).

However, Čilić did not enter the match best, and the Slovakian led in the first set 3:1. After that, Marin played better and solved the first and second sets with an impressive series of nine games won. In the third set, both players firmly held their first strike, so the decision fell to a tie-break where Klizan had four set points at 6:2, but Marin ended the match with six consecutive points, scoring 17 aces, a first-serve percentage of 59%, and used four of nine break points. In the second round, Čillić will play against German Cedrik-Marcel Stebe. 

Donna Vekić was the last of Croatia’s representative to qualify for the 2nd round on Tuesday after she topped Dutch qualifier Richel Hogenkamp, the 207th player in the WTA raking - 7:6 (4), 6:3. Far more excitement was seen in the first set, in which Hogenkamp led 3:1, and at 6:5 she had the serve to be up 1:0. However, Donna managed to stop Hogenkamp and secured the win in the second set after 2:2 with two new breaks. She hit four aces (with a first-serve percentage of 48%) and used five of 10 break points. She had 36 winners, but made as many as 30 unforced errors. Donna’s 2nd round contender will be 34-year-old Estonian Kaia Kanepi, currently the 82nd best player in the world. 

Ivo Karlović ended his performance at this year's US Open in the first round. After 69 minutes of play, Karlović lost to American Frances Tiafoe2:6, 3:6, 2:1. 

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Cincinnati Masters: Donna Vekić Moves Forward, Ćorić Out

August 14, 2019 - Not all hope is lost for Croatian tennis players in the Cincinnati Masters as Donna Vekić moves into the second round.

After a poor display on Monday, which saw Čilić, Karlović, and Martić out in the first round, Donna Vekić gave us confidence.

Donna Vekić overcame the first obstacle of the WTA tournament in Cincinnati without any major problems. The Osijek native celebrated against Czech player Katerina Siniakova, the 38th best tennis player in the world, in two sets (6:4, 6:3). Siniakova held on in both sets until 1:1, after which Donna completely controlled the result, says HTS.

Siniakova had the biggest opportunity in the first set when she went from 2:5 to 4:5 to again lose her service and the set. In the second set, the winner was clear thanks to a break in the fourth game. The Croatian tennis player totaled five aces, had a first-serve percentage of 63 percent and used four of 13 break points. 

In the second round, Donna awaits Belarusian player Victória Azárenka, the 40th best player in the world, on Wednesday at 6:30 pm Croatia time. Donna recently mastered Azárenka at the WTA tournament in San Jose.

Unfortunately, Borna Coric joins Čilić, Karlović, and Martić on their short stay in Cincinnati. After his first-round match was interrupted due to rain on Monday, 22-year-old Ćorić, who was also the 12-seed of the tournament, was surprised by the 211 cm tall American player Reilly Opelka (42nd on the ATP list). The game continued on Tuesday from the third set, and Ćorić lost 4:6, 6:3, 7:5.

Recall, the match was cut short on Monday at 4:3 for Borna in the deciding set. However, a day later, Croatia’s best male tennis player lost his serve in the 11th game, after which the American (who achieved 27 aces in the match) safely served to win. Ćorić scored six aces with a brilliant first-serve percentage of 71 percent, but used only one of 11 break points, which ultimately gave him the defeat. For comparison, Opelka used two of seven.

In the doubles competition, Mate Pavić and partner Bruno Soares will move to the round of 16. 

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Thursday, 8 August 2019

Canadian Open: Marin Čilić Last Croatian Standing, Moves into Round of 16

August 8, 2019 - Croatian tennis player Marin Čilić topped John Millman in the Canadian Open round of 32, thus equalizing his best result at the tournament in 2011.

Marin Čilić (16th on the ATP ranking) advanced to the 3rd round of the ATP Masters 1000 Tournament in Montreal after he celebrated 6:3, 6:6 against Australian John Millman (65th on the ATP ranking) after 75 minutes of play, reports Gol.hr.

It was the second match between the 30-year-old Croatian tennis player and his Australian opponent and the second victory for Čilić, who did not let the 20-minute rain break disturb his game when he led 6:3, 4:2.

After losing his serve in the third game, Čilić immediately returned in the next game and dominated the court. Another break in the eighth game brought him the first set, and he gained the advantage in the second set right at the start and was close to securing the 3rd round until the match was interrupted by rain.

After a 20-minute break, Millman held his serve, but with losing one point in the tenth game, Čilić served for the win. 

Marin’s first serve percentage was 67%, leaving Millman with only one opportunity to break, which the Australian also realized. When Čilić put the first serve in, he won 81% of the points, had a second serve percentage of 50%, and took advantage of four break opportunities. The match ended with seven aces and no double faults.

This is only Čilić’s fourth appearance at the Canadian Open when Montreal is the host, and with the victory over Millman, he equalized his best result from 2011, when he lost to Novak Djokovic in the 3rd round. 

To qualify for the quarterfinal, Čilić will play against the 2nd-seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem. Rain was announced in Montreal on Wednesday, which could significantly disrupt Thursday’s program. 

Borna Ćorić was not as lucky in the Canadian Open, losing to Adrian Mannarino in the round of 32 on Wednesday. Donna Vekić also lost in the round of 32 in the WTA Rogers Cup in Toronto to Svetlana Kuznetsova.

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