Thursday, 23 January 2020

Australian Open: Marin Cilic and Donna Vekic Move to 3rd Round

January 23, 2020 - Marin Cilic and Donna Vekic have advanced to the third round of the Australian Open.

Marin Cilic is in the third round of the Australian Open! After five-sets, Cilic found his way to victory against the 21st best player in the world, Frenchman Benoit Paire - 6:2, 6:7(6), 3:6, 6:1, 7:6(10:3).

The match looked promising for Cilic at first as he easily won the first set. However, in the second, Cilic had a 5:2 lead and allowed Paire to get back in the game. The Frenchman returned with a break, and after the tie-break at 3:5, he won the second set. 

Cilic lost the third set thanks to a break in the eighth game, but after that moment, he did not lose his serve for the rest of the match. 

In just 27 minutes, Cilic took the fourth set, while the fifth set went to an extended tie-break in which Marin reached his fifth victory in his sixth meeting with Paire. Marin totaled 17 aces (Paire had 30) with a first-serve percentage of 67%. Marin’s rival in the fight for the round of 16 will be the 9th best tennis player in the world, Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut.

Donna Vekic will join Cilic in the third round of the Australian Open for the first time in her career. The Osijek native and 19th-seed of the tournament defeated French player Alize Cornet, the 61st best tennis player in the world - 6:4, 6:2 without any problems.

Donna had a bit more work to do in the first set, where, after a 3:1 lead, she allowed Cornet to return to 3:3. However, immediately in the next game, Vekic broke her opponent, which was enough to win the first set.

In the second set, Donna was up 4:1, which was an unattainable advantage for Cornet. This was their second match and the first victory for Vekic, who will play Iga Świątek in the third round on Saturday. 

Petra Martic is out of the Australian Open after losing to Julia Goerges 4:6, 6:3: 7:5. This was Goerges third victory in their third meeting. Ivo Karlovic is also out after losing to Gael Monfils 6:4, 6:7(8), 4:6, 5:7 in the second round. 

Source: HTS

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Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Australian Open: Donna Vekic and Marin Cilic Join Martic in Second Round

January 21, 2020 - After Petra Martic moved to the second round on Monday and Borna Coric was surprisingly knocked out in the first, three more Croatian representatives took to the courts on Tuesday - Marin Cilic, Donna Vekic and Ivo Karlovic.

Marin Cilic had a convincing performance in the first round of this year's Australian Open, defeating the recent finalist of the ATP tournament in Doha, Frenchman Corentin Moutet (ATP—70) - 6:3, 6:2, 6:4.

Cilic won the first set after a break in the sixth game, and in the second set, he took Moutet’s serve in the first and fifth games. Cilic, however, had a bit more work in the third set, though in the fifth game, a decisive break gave him the victory, in which he recorded nine aces with a first-serve percentage of 62 percent.

His next opponent is the 21st tennis player in the world, Frenchman Benoit Paire. They have played on five occasions so far, and Marin has recorded four wins. 

Donna Vekic will also play in the second round of the Australian Open for the fifth time in her career. Namely, the 23-year-old Osijek native and 19th-seed of the tournament was too strong for former best tennis player in the world, Russian Maria Sharapova (WTA-145) - 6:3, 6:4. 

Donna had no problems in the first set and quickly went to 5:1 to resolve any doubts. However, in the second set, Sharapova played much better, and after a break in the fourth game, later led 4:1. 

Donna then kicked into gear and, with five consecutive games, reached her first success against Sharapova. Sharapova previously celebrated at the 2018 Roland Garros tournament. 

On her way to victory, Donna recorded three aces with a first-serve percentage of 52 percent, and used all four break-points on her opponent’s serve. In the second round, Vekic will play the winner of Cornet - Niculescu.

Ivo Karlovic (ATP-124th), who will turn 41 next month, also advanced to the second round of the first Australian Open, beating Canadian Vasek Pospisil in the first round 7:6 (4), 6:4, 7:5 after two hours and two minutes of play.

Source: HTS

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Wednesday, 8 January 2020

ATP Cup Sydney: Argentina Sweeps Croatia 3:0, Ending Quarter-final Dream

January 8, 2020 - The Croatia tennis team remains without the quarter-final of the premiere edition of the ATP Cup. 

After celebrating in the first two rounds of Group E, Croatia faced the worst-case scenario in Sydney on Wednesday. Namely, Croatia lost all three matches to Argentina (3:0) and thus ended their run in the group for second place. After losing both singles matches (Marin Cilic lost to Guido Pella, ATP 25th) 7:6 (1), 6:3, and Borna Coric lost to Diego Schwartzman (ATP 13th) - 6:2, 6:2, they needed a win in the last doubles match to be in the top eight as the best runner-up. However, Ivan Dodig and Nikola Mektic failed to record an important point and were conquered by Maximo Gonzalez and Andres Molteni - 3:6, 6:3, 10:2.

Cilic started well in the first match, leading 4:1, but then lost his serve for the first time in the tournament, and later the first set. In the second, he held on to 2:2, but in the end, it was Pella to win for the third time in their fourth encounter. 

Coric lost to Schwartzman in 75 minutes. The Argentina player saved both of Coric’s breaks, while the Zagreb native scored just 12 points on his opponent’s serve. It was their fourth encounter and Schwartzman's second win.

In the final doubles match, Dodig and Mektic quickly won the first set (6:3), though Argentina woke up, started to play and smoothly took the second. With complete dominance in the decisive tie-break, Argentina concluded the duel in their favor.

Thus, Belgium and Canada placed second for a spot in the quarter-final.

The quarter-final of the first ATP Cup includes Australia - UK, Argentina - Russia, Serbia - Canada, and Spain - Belgium. All matches will be played at the Ken Rosewall Arena in Sydney.

Final standings in Group E: 1. Argentina 2:1, 2. Croatia 2:1, 3. Poland 1:2, 4. Austria 1:2.

Source: HTS

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Monday, 6 January 2020

ATP Cup Sydney: Croatia Records Second Group Win, Tops Poland 2:1

January 7, 2020 - In their second appearance in Group E at the ATP Cup in Sydney, the Croatia tennis team reached their second victory, topping Poland 2:1. Marin Cilic secured the first point for Croatia against Kacper Zuk (7:6 (8), 6:4). Hubert Hurkacz equalized with a surprisingly convincing victory against Borna Coric (6:2, 6:2), though Croatia’s doubles team of Ivan Dodig and Nikola Mektic were better than Hurkacz and Lukasz Kubot 6:2, 6:1.

The young Kacper Zuk (20), the 448th best tennis player in the world who played his first-ever ATP match on Monday, was inspiring against Marin Cilic, and in the tie-break of the first set, he reached the set-point (6:5). However, it was Marin to find the path to victory in two sets.

"I think my level of play was good; I was aggressive, served well. If I have to choose something that I was not happy with, then it is definitely utilizing my chances to break,” Marin said after the match. Marin used only one of the 13 opportunities to take Zuk’s serve. Zuk, on the other hand, did not use any of his four breaks. 

Hubert Hurkacz (37th on the ATP list) dominated Borna Coric in the second match. The Zagreb native made as many as 26 unforced errors during the match and won a total of eight points on Hurkacz’s serve.

"It was one of the best matches of my career so far," the 22-year-old  Hurkacz admitted after the match.

As for the doubles, it was a cat-and-mouse game where Hurkacz and Kubot scored just nine points on the return serve. In addition to the Croatian victory, the match will be remembered for a fantastic move by Ivan Dodig at a 3-0 lead in the second set. Ivan instinctively played a fantastic lob behind his back, which resulted in the eruptive applause of fans. It was one of the most beautiful and impressive points ever seen in a doubles competition.

Croatia is now on the verge of winning the group and only needs one win in the match against Argentina, which is scheduled for Wednesday. 

The only way Croatia can fail to qualify for the quarterfinals is in the event of a 3:0 defeat to Argentina and Austria's 3:0 victory against Poland. In this case, Croatia would have the weakest ratio.

One win against Argentina would be enough to put Croatia at the top to secure the quarterfinals. 

Marin Cilic will play against Guido Pella and will be the first to secure Croatia's spot in the quarterfinals. If he fails, a fight between Borna Coric and Diego Schwartzman will follow, followed by a doubles match.

Given the first two rounds, the safest pair would be Ivan Dodig and Nikola Mektic, who’ve won both matches thus far. 

In any case, Croatia is in a great position to qualify for the quarterfinals of the premier ATP Cup, in which they would meet the winner of Group D. This will very likely be Russia, who only needs to defeat Norway to secure the first place. 

Source: HTS

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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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Sunday, 10 November 2019

Another Hit Ahead of Davis Cup Finals: Zeljko Krajan No Longer Croatia Coach

November 10, 2019 - The Croatian Tennis Federation and the current Davis Cup team coach Zeljko Krajan ended their cooperation on Saturday, just nine days before the start of the Davis Cup finals tournament in Madrid, where Croatia will be defending the title. 

Below is the official statement of Croatian Tennis Federation (HTS) President Nikolic Babic:

''After a joint meeting of the HTS senior leadership and the players, which included, besides myself, Vice-Presidents Neven Nakic and Franc Regina, Executive Director Vlatko Jovanoski and Sports Director Jelena Kostanic Tosic, it was concluded that the Davis Cup final in Madrid would not be played under the leadership of national team coach Zeljko Krajan, and we have agreed to terminate our cooperation with him.

My thanks go to coach Krajan for all that we have accomplished and achieved together. However, as of today, we are going to a new format. After the dismissal of Marin Cilic due to injury and Ivo Karlovic’s inability to play, we decided to go to the Davis Cup in Madrid with young players with whom we want and can build the future of the Croatian tennis team. The players are in the first place, they are wholeheartedly playing for our national team and the country, and I am sure they will do their best to achieve the best result,” the statement read.

Croatia will play in a group against Spain and Russia in Madrid. The winners of the six groups and the two best runner-up teams will compete in the quarterfinals, with which the knockout phase of the competition begins. There will be two singles matches and one doubles match in each round, and winning two sets in enough for the victory. 

Zeljko Krajan originally nominated Marin Cilic, Borna Coric, Ivan Dodig, Mata Pavic and Nikola Mektic for this tournament. After Cilic's knee injury, which caused him to cancel his Davis Cup appearance, Krajan decided to contact 40-year veteran Ivo Karlovic, the next best-ranked Croatian tennis player (ATP-106), who last played for the national team in the final against Argentina in 2016 in Zagreb, where he replaced the then-poorly-recovered Borna Coric.

In the meantime, Karlovic has not accepted the trip to Madrid, as he will try to win back points at the Challenger in Houston next week among the top 100 tennis players in the world, which books direct placement in next year's Australian Open main draw.

As it is not known who will lead the national team in Madrid, it is also not known who will replace Marin Cilic. There is no one behind Karlovic until the 243rd best-ranked player on the ATP list, 29-year-old Viktor Galovic. Galovic was already a member of the national team and played in the Davis Cup (1-1). Behind him is  21-year-old Borna Gojo (ATP-279) and 22-year-old Nino Serdarusic (ATP-281). If the key argument is youth, then Gojo and Serdarusic are ahead of Galovic.

"I believe that our fans and the public will respect this decision by the players and HTS and provide support and peace to the players as they go to this important Davis Cup competition in Madrid," the HTS president concluded in an official statement.

The Croatian Tennis Federation on Monday announced they are holding a media conference in Zagreb, which will feature national team players and HTS leadership.

Source:, HTS

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Thursday, 7 November 2019

Marin Cilic Pulls Out of Davis Cup, Will be Croatia's "Most Devoted Fan"

November 7, 2019 - Marin Cilic announced on Thursday morning that he would not play in the Davis Cup this month in Madrid, to be held from November 18-24.

In a Facebook status to his 175,000 fans and an Instagram post to his 196,000 followers, Marin revealed:

With the 2019 season finished, I wanted to share an update with you all. The last year and a half has been a real struggle mentally and physically for me. Even with all the preventative work and rehab my team and I did, my recurring knee injury has continued to give me problems, and as the season progressed it was becoming more evident that surgery was inevitable. I recently did an ultrasound and luckily the results were better than expected.

The rehab work was successful enough that surgery is not necessary at this stage, however, I will need to undergo a few minor interventions which will keep me off the tennis court for a longer period and unfortunately means I will not be able to compete at the Davis Cup this month. I am extremely disappointed by this, but I believe in my teammates and will be their most devoted fan.

In the meantime, I will dedicate myself to getting back to form so that I can enter the 2020 season healthier, more prepared, and more motivated than ever. Thank you all for your constant support and I look forward to seeing you back on tour in 2020.”

Marin Cilic thus finished the 2019 season as the 39th best tennis player in the world. 

Croatia coach Zeljko Krajan allegedly knew about Cilic's problems and was ready to act in the event Cilic could not continue. According to Sportske Novosti, Krajan will return 40-year-old Ivo Karlovic to the national team. Karlovic jumped in back in 2016 thanks to a similar situation in the finals against Argentina. Then, Karlovic lost a crucial match against Federico Delbonis. Krajan’s other options were the much more inexperienced Viktor Galovic, Nino Serdarušić and Borna Gojo.

Croatia plays in Group B in Spain against Spain and Russia. Three matches will be played in one day, two in the singles competition and one in the doubles. The winners of the groups and the two best runner-up teams advance to the quarterfinals.

Borna Coric, Ivan Dodig, Nikola Mektic, and Mate Pavic will play for Croatia along with Ivo Karlovic.

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

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Kremlin Cup: Marin Cilic Books First Semi-final in 14 Months

October 19, 2019 - Marin Cilic defeated Jeremy Chardy in the quarters of the Kremlin Cup on Friday to book his first semi-final in 14 months! 

HRT reports that Croatian tennis player Marin Cilic advanced to the semi-final of the ATP tournament in Moscow after defeating Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (2) after two hours and 21 minutes of play.

It will be Cilic's first appearance in the semi-final of a tournament in 2019 and his first in 14 months, or since Cincinnati in August last year.

However, this was no easy win for Cilic, and the match was full of twists and turns. In the first set, Chardy led 4-3 with a break only to have Cilic win the next three games, two of which were on Chardy’s serve.

To win the second set, it was enough for Chardy to break in the third game, which took the match to the decisive third set. Cilic led 3-0 only for Chardy to equalize at 3-3. Chardy had the chance to break Cilic to lead 4-3, which he didn't use. Then, with a 4-3 advantage, Cilic had four opportunities to take his opponents serve; however, the winner would be decided in a tie break. 

Cilic was convincing with his first strike in the decisive game and managed to score two points on Chardy's serve for the win. This was Cilic’s fourth victory in his sixth match against Chardy. With this success, Cilic also skips Borna Coric (currently ranked 22nd on the ATP list) and will again have the status of Croatia's best tennis player on Monday.

In the semi-final, Cilic will play against Russian Andrey Rublev, who beat Serbian Nikola Milojevic 6-2, 6-3. Cilic and Rublev have played twice so far, and each player has one win. Cilic celebrated back in 2015, while Rublev celebrated in March of this year in Miami.

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Friday, 18 October 2019

Kremlin Cup: Marin Cilic Better than Ivo Karlovic for Spot in Quarters

October 18, 2019 - Marin Cilic booked a spot in the quarterfinal of the ATP Tournament in Moscow after defeating fellow countryman Ivo Karlovic 6:1, 7:6 in the Croatian round of 16. It was their seventh encounter and the fourth victory for Cilic.

HRT writes that Karlovic and Cilic last played two years ago in the semifinal of the Rosmalen Grass Court Championships, when Karlovic, who is nine years Cilic’s senior, celebrated in three sets.

This time, however, Marin Cilic was better and won after an hour and 24 minutes of play.

Cilic entered the match like a hurricane, and with two breaks, he led 5:0. Karlovic struggled to reduce the score to 5:1, and in the next game, Cilic safely served for a 1:0 lead in sets after 28 minutes of play.

In the first set, Karlovic had major problems with his strongest weapon, his serve. He achieved only one ace service with a modest first-serve percentage of 39 percent.

In the second set, we saw a much closer fight. 

Cilic had two break points in the first game, but the Croatian veteran saved both. Karlovic’s big opportunity came in the eighth game, when he had two consecutive and three total break opportunities, but he did not use any.

The set was eventually decided in the thirteenth game. Cilic took the lead with 4:2, Karlovic tied it at 5:5, but Marin then won two games in a row for the victory. With this victory, Cilic also booked his 500th match win.

Recall, Karlovic defeated Slovenian Aljaz Bedene in the first round 6:4, 6:7 (5), 7:6 (6), while Cilic, as the third-seed in the Kremlin Cup, was free. Cilic now awaits Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in the quarterfinal, who beat Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic 6:3, 6:4 in the 2nd round match.

Cilic and Chardy have played five times so far, with Cilic leading 3:2 in wins. They last played two years ago in Monte Carlo, where Cilic celebrated 6:3, 6:0.

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

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Kremlin Cup: Ivo Karlovic and Marin Cilic to Meet in Round of 16

October 16, 2019 - A Croatian round of 16 awaits at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow, as Ivo Karlovic and Marin Cilic are set to meet on Thursday. writes that Croatian tennis player Ivo Karlovic saved the match point in a decisive tie-break on Tuesday - and after battling for two hours and 11 minutes in the first round of the Kremlin Cup, he defeated Slovenian Aljaž Bedene 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (6). In the round of 16, Karlovic awaits an all Croatian duel, with Marin Cilic on the other side of the net. 

It was the fifth encounter between the 40-year-old Karlovic and 30-year-old Slovenian, in which the Croatian veteran reached his first victory.

In the first set, Karlovic needed a break to take the 3-2 lead to win. In the second set, he missed a chance to break in the first game and saved Bedene's only break point in the eighth game, forcing the game to a tie-break. Bedene managed to score one point on Karlovic's serve, which was enough for him to win the set.

Karlovic had the only chance to break in the third set with a 4-3 lead, but Bedene came back. The Slovenian led by 5-2 in the decisive tie-break, but Karlovic returned to 5-5 and led 6-5 to save the match point. Karlovic also scored the next two points, reaching his 11th win of the season (11-14).

Karlovic scored 35 aces to win, achieving a first-serve percentage of 85 percent and 58 percent on the second serve. Bedene scored three more points (107-104) overall, but that wasn't enough for the victory. 

In the fight for the quarterfinal, Karlovic will play against Marin Cilic who, as the third-seed of the Kremlin Cup, was free in the first round. In their six encounters so far, Karlovic and Cilic have each won three times. Karlovic and Cilic last played two years ago in the semifinal of the Rosmalen Grass Court Championships. Karlovic, who is nine years older than Cilic, won in three sets.

The round of 16 match between Karlovic and Cilic is scheduled for Thursday.

On Tuesday, the first-seed Russian Danil Medvedev, who just won the ATP Masters 1000 Series tournament in Shanghai, dropped out of the tournament in Moscow. He has played in six consecutive finals, after all. Medvedev was replaced in the main draw by a lucky loser from the qualifications, Serbian tennis player Nikola Milojevic.

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