Thursday, 25 November 2021

Davis Cup Day 1: Croatia Opens with 3:0 Victory against Australia

November 25, 2021 - The Croatia national tennis team opened the Davis Cup finals in Turin with a clean sheet against Australia on Thursday. A look at Davis Cup day 1.

The end of the tennis season is reserved for the Davis Cup finals, held from November 25 to December 5. Croatia kicked off their group against Australia in Turin on Thursday. 

Croatia national team coach Vedran Martić officially changed his lineup on Wednesday, and instead of the injured Borna Ćorić, he called up Nino Serdarušić. Thus, Marin Čilić, Nino Serdarušić, Borna Gojo, Nikola Mektić, and Mate Pavić are the forces that will represent Croatian tennis in Turin.

In the first 1st match of Group D between Croatia and Australia, Borna Gojo, currently, the 276th player in the world, defeated Alexei Popyrin, the 61st player in the world, 7:6 (5), 7:5. An hour before the match at Alpitour hall, coach Vedran Martić was uncertain between choosing Gojo or Nino Serdarušić as the second singles player, and in the end opted for the 23-year-old from Split, although he is ranked lower than the Zagreb native. 

The second singles match followed between Marin Čilić (ATP-30) and Alex de Minaur (ATP-34). In a marathon of three sets, Marin Čilić found his way to victory topping the Australian 6:1, 5:7, 6:4.

Čilić violently started against De Minaur, took the first set (6:1) in 26 minutes, and took the 3:1 lead in the second set. De Minaur came back to win eight of the next 10 games and was up 2:0 in the deciding set. However, Marin came back with a vengeance and brought the winning point to the Croatia national team. This was their third duel and Čilić's second victory.

Croatia was then represented in the doubles competition by the best duo in the world, Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić, against John Peers and Alex de Minaur. Mektić and Pavić won 6:3, 6:1!

Croatia is in Group D with Hungary and Australia, and if they win first place, they will also play against the winner of Group E (Italy, USA, Colombia) in the quarterfinals, also in Turin. Croatia will play against Hungary on Sunday.

The first phase of the competition is held in six groups, and the six group winners and the two best second-placed national teams will move forward. Two singles matches and one doubles match will be played. 

Croatia, as the last winner of the 'old' Davis Cup in 2018 in Lille against France, did not become famous in Madrid two years ago. In the difficult group with Spain and Russia, they lost both matches 0:3, but there were objective reasons, such as Marin Čilić's injury, who did not even travel to Madrid, and Borna Ćorić withdrew after the first match. More than anything, coach Željko Krajan was dismissed a few days prior, there was a conflict among the players, the Croatian Tennis Federation sided with the players, and Franko Škugor took over the coaching role. 

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Friday, 19 November 2021

No. 1 Seed Mektić and Pavić Move to Nitto ATP Finals Semi-Finals in Turin!

November 19, 2021 - The No. 1 doubles team in the world, Croatian tennis players Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić, advanced to the Nitto ATP Finals semi-finals in Turin!

In the last match of the Green Group, they defeated Croatian tennis player Ivan Dodig and his Slovak partner Filip Polašek 6-4, 7-6 (6).

The Tokyo Olympic gold medalists thus remained in the competition to win their tenth tournament in 2021.

A break at 2:2 was enough for Mektić and Pavić to win the first set. With a 4:2 advantage, Mektić and Pavić had four consecutive break points and a 5:2 advantage, but Dodig and Polašek combined a few great points and stayed in the game.

And it nearly paid off for them, because with the Croatian duo's 5-4 advantage, Dodig and Polašek had two chances to equalize, but Pavič nailed two great serves to win the first set. 

Dodig and Polašek started the second set better and took the serve from Pavić for 2:0, but the Croatian aces immediately returned on Dodig's serve. By the end of the set, Pavić excelled with three fantastic returns in the tie break. With one, Pavić secured the second match point.

With two victories and one defeat, Mektić and Pavić took second place in the Green Group. Their semifinal opponent, which will be the winners of the Red Group, will be learned on Friday.

Dodig and Polašek finished third in the group with one win and two defeats.

First place in this group was secured by Spaniard Marcel Granollers and Argentinean Horacio Zeballos with victories against Dodig and Polašek and Mektić and Pavić in the first two rounds. On Thursday, they lost an unimportant duel to German Kevin Krawietz and Romanian Horia Tecau, who remained last in the group despite the victory.

The Nitto ATP Finals crown the end of the ATP Tour season, featuring only the world's best eight qualified singles players and doubles teams. The tournament is held at Turin’s Pala Alpitour stadium, Italy’s largest indoor sporting arena, from 2021-2025. 

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Sunday, 7 November 2021

Mate Pavić and Nikola Mektić Finish as World #1 Doubles Team in 2021

November 7, 2021 - Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić are the world's #1 doubles team in 2021! 

On the ATP ranking, Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić will finish 2021 as the world's best doubles team. Only American Rajeev Ram and Briton Joe Salisbury threatened to catch Pavić and Mektić, though thanks to the outcome of the Paris Masters, the Croatian duo was unattainable. 

This is the third time Pavić has finished the year as part of the world's best doubles team, and Nikola Mektić is the third partner with whom Pavić reached the top. Last year, Pavić and Brazilian partner Bruno Soares were named #1, and in 2018, he was the best in combination with Austrian partner Oliver Marach.

"I'm thrilled. True, this is my third time in the last four years with a third partner, but I achieved it for the first time with a Croatian, which is a great achievement for us personally, but also for Croatian tennis in general," said Mate Pavić in a statement from ATP Tour.

Mektić will finish at the top of the ATP rankings for the first time this year.

"It is a nice achievement, especially after a season like the one we had. I was looking forward to it. When I saw how we were doing, it became one of the goals. It is nice to end the year at number 1, which is the crown of the whole season in which we had nice victories and great titles," said Nikola Mektić.

In a year full of success, the 32-year-old from Zagreb and the 28-year-old from Split won nine titles, including the Wimbledon trophy and a gold medal at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Mektić and Pavić will still play in the final tournament of the eight best doubles teams in the world, where the Zagreb man triumphed last year with Dutch partner Wesley Koolhof. But, on the other hand, it is one of the few trophies Pavić does not have in his collection.

"We had a great season, and we are looking forward to playing in Turin at this year's ATP Final. We will try to end the season the way we started it," said Pavić.

ATP President Andrea Gaudenzi also congratulated the Croatian duo.

"Congratulations to Nikola and Mate on an exceptional season and number 1. It is impressive how they started the season and how much success they had in their first year together, and we should be proud of our achievements," said Gaudenzi.

Mektić and Pavić will be the first-seed at the ATP Finals, hosted in Turin for the first time from November 14 to 21, after the final tournament was played in London's O2 Arena from 2009 to 2020.

After the ATP Finals, Nikola and Mate will play for the Croatia Davis Cup national team again in Turin. They will play the group stage against Australia on November 25 and against Hungary on November 28.

Source: HRT

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Saturday, 14 August 2021

Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić Move to Canadian Open Doubles Final!

August 15, 2021 - The world's best Croatian tennis duo has done it again - Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić have reached their 12th final so far this year by advancing to the Canadian Open doubles final! 

Olympic gold medalists Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić advanced to the ATP Masters 1000 series finals in Toronto. In the semifinal match, they defeated German Kevin Krawietz and Romanian Horia Tecau 7-6 (3), 7-6 (12).

Mektić and Pavić were more successful in both tie breaks during the match. 

In the first set, each side equalized once on their opponent's service - Krawietz and Tecau in the 8th game, and Mektić and Pavić in the 11th game, but failed to win the deciding point. In the tie break, Mektić and Pavić took the lead at 3-0, then 6-1, and convincingly brought the first set to an end.

The Croatian side was better in the second set in which they had four break points, one in the 6th and three more in the 8th game, but they failed to materialize them. Krawietz and Tecau took a 4-0 lead, then a 5-1 lead in the second tie break, and it looked like an extended tie-break would be played, but Mektić and Pavić reached 5-5, followed by a series of 15 points in a row won by the serving pair.

Krawietz and Tecau had four set points in that series, and Mektić and Pavić had three match points. However, the series was interrupted by the Croatian side's 13-12 lead when they used their fourth match point.

This is already the 56th victory for Mektić and Pavić in 2021, with only nine defeats. With this win, they have thus reached their 12th final. So far, they have won nine titles, and on the way to the tenth, they will face American Rajeev Ram and the Briton Joe Salisbury who defeated Belgians Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen in the semifinal. 

Source: HRT

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Saturday, 14 August 2021

Four Croatian Olympic Medallists From Dalmatia Get Cash Rewards

ZAGREB, 14 Aug, 2021 - The local authorities in Split-Dalmatia County have recently decided to reward the four Olympic medalists, who hail from this Croatian region, and the two of them who were Olympic champions in their events in Tokyo received the highest reward, 25,000 kuna at a ceremony in Split on 9 August.

Those were Matea Jelić, who grabbed the Olympic gold medal in the women's taekwondo 67kg final, and Mate Pavić, who was a member of the Croatian pair that won Olympic men's doubles tennis title.

A reward of 20,000 kuna was given to sailor Tonči Stipanović, who bagged silver in the men's one-person dinghy laser event at the Tokyo Games, while a reward of 15,000 kuna was for the Olympic bronze medallist Toni Kanaet in the taekwondo 80kg men event.

During the 23 July-8 August Olympic Games in Tokyo, Croatia won eight medals: three golds, three silvers and two bronzes.

The latest Croatian Olympic champions are thus taekwondoist Jelić, rowers Valent and Martin Sinković in the men's pair, and the Croatian tennis players -- Pavić and Nikola Mektić -- who won Olympic men's doubles tennis title.

The three silvers were grabbed in the above-mentioned sailing event as well as in the men's doubles tennis event (Marin Čilić and Ivan Dodig) and in the men's horizontal bar (Tin Srbić).

Apart from Kanaet, the other bronze medallist was a rower, Damir Martin, who won bronze in the men's single sculls.

Croatia placed 26th out of 93 states in the rankings of medal winners at the 32nd Olympics in Japan while the most successful were U.S. athletes with 39 gold medals, 41 silvers and 33 bronzes won.

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Saturday, 14 August 2021

Unstoppable Mektić and Pavić Advance to Canadian Open Doubles Semis!

August 14, 2021 - The unstoppable Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić are in the Canadian Open doubles semis after defeating Dutch player Matwe Middlekop and Australian player Luke Saville 6-3, 6-7 (6), 10-7 in the quarterfinals.

Olympic gold medalists Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić achieved their 17th consecutive victory and advanced to the semifinals of the ATP Masters 1000 Series tournament in Toronto, where they defeated Dutch player Matwe Middlekop and Australian Luke Saville 6-3, 6-7 (6), 10-7 in the quarterfinals.

It was the 60th match for the Croatian duo this season, and they reached their 55th victory. For the 17th time this season, they celebrated in a super tie break and won from a tie break for the 16th time.

Although they had to play three sets, Mektić and Pavić did not allow their opponents any break points during the match.

The world’s best doubles team is one match away from their 12th final this season and will have to achieve it against German Kevin Krawietz and Romanian Horia Tecau who are the 4th seeded pair in Toronto. 

For the placement in the semifinals, Krawietz and Tecau defeated Russian Aslan Karacev and Serbian Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 3-6, 10-3.

Another Croatian tennis player, a silver medalist from Tokyo Ivan Dodig, is playing for the semifinals. With his new partner, Indian Rohan Bopann, he will play in the quarterfinals against the third seed, American Rajeev Rama and Briton Joe Salisbury.

Recall, after winning eight ATP tournaments in their first season playing together, the most important of which is Wimbledon, Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić also became Olympic champions and justified their status as the first seed of the tournament in Tokyo. The duo won the fourth and fifth medals in the history of Croatian tennis at the Olympic Games earlier this summer. 

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Friday, 30 July 2021

All-Croatian Olympic Doubles Final: Pavić and Mektić Take Gold, Čilić and Dodig Silver!

July 30, 2021 - Mate Pavić and Nikola Mektić have taken the gold medal in the all-Croatian Olympic doubles final against Marin Čilić and Ivan Dodig! 

Croatia increased its collection of medals at the Olympic Games in Tokyo today by winning both the gold and silver in the final of the tennis doubles tournament, in which Mate Pavić and Nikola Mektić, and Marin Čilić and Ivan Dodig met on Friday. 

First seed Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić reached the finals with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over the USA's Austin Krajicek and Tennys Sandgren, while Čilić and Dodig defeated New Zealand's Michael Venus and Marcus Daniello 6-2, 6-2.

Only for the third time in Olympic history, but for the first time in more than 100 years, doubles teams from the same country played in the men’s doubles final. So far, tennis players from the same country have played in the men's doubles final only twice - Great Britain in 1908 in London and team USA in 1904 in St. Louis.

The more dominant and well-coordinated Mektić and Pavić won the first set 6-4, though Čilić and Dodig came back fierce in the second with a break to win it 6-4.

The decision fell in a super tie-break that Mektić and Pavić opened with a furious 6:0. Čilić and Dodig managed to get closer at 8:6, but the best tennis pair in the world took the next two points for the Olympic gold. 

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Slobodan Kadic

After winning eight ATP tournaments in their first season playing together, the most important of which is Wimbledon, Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić are the Olympic champions and justified their status as the first seed of the tournament. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Thus, the fourth and fifth medals in the history of Croatian tennis at the Olympic Games were officially won. The first two were won in 1992 in Barcelona when Goran Ivanišević won bronze in singles and doubles with Goran Prpić. Mario Ančić and Ivan Ljubičić also took bronze in Athens in 2004.

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Slobodan Kadic

Croatia is now on six Olympic medals in Tokyo. Gold went to Matea Jelić, Martin and Valent Sinković, and Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić. Ivan Dodig and Marin Čilić are the first silver Croatian athletes from Tokyo, and Toni Kanaet and Damir Martin won bronze. 

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Slobodan Kadic

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Thursday, 29 July 2021

Gold Medal Match Between Croatian Players for the First Time Ever!

July 29, 2021 - Historic! An unthinkable and spectacular event has happened today not only in Croatian sports history but also in the Olympic Games. Mate Pavić and Nikola Mektić have won today and there will be a Gold Medal Match between Croatian players in Tokyo 2020!

The morning got off to a great start for Croatia at the Olympics, after the couple Marin Cilić and Ivan Dodig beat their New Zealand rivals in the semi-final, thus securing at least one medal for their country. But in recent days, everyone was closely following the fact that two pairs of Croatian tennis players reached the semifinals, as the brand-new champions of the doubles category at Wimbledon, Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić, had also managed to reach those instances.

With the four Croatian tennis players in the semifinals, a bronze medal was already confirmed for the Croatian delegation. But with today's victory for Cilić and Dodig (6-2, 6-2) over their New Zealand counterparts Daniell and Venus, Croatia had already secured at least one silver medal. Even before it happened, everyone was wondering, "What if there was a final between Croats?".

And that's how it went from imagination to reality. Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić defeated their American rivals Krajicek and Sandgren (6-4, 6-4), and Croatia thus secured a gold and silver medal in tennis in the doubles category, in what will be an unprecedented and exciting Croatian Gold Medal match in a tennis final.

To reach the grand final, Mektić and Pavić had to beat Brazilians Demoliner and Merlo in a close match (7-6, 6-4) in the first round. They then beat the Italians Musetti and Sonego in the second round, also in a difficult match (7-5, 6-7, 10-7). This earned them qualification for the quarterfinals, where they beat the locals McLachlan and Nishikori (6-3, 6-3). At this point, the dream of the Olympic medal was already approaching, with the Croatian tennis players in the semifinals. Today they beat Americans Austin Krajicek and Tennys Sandgren 6-4 in both sets, in a match that lasted 1 hour and 21 minutes.

Mektić and Pavić, the best tennis pair of today, have 51 victories and only five defeats this year. They both arrived in Tokyo as the recent champions of the Wimbledon doubles tournament this month.

Croatian sport reaches a historic moment with the first tennis doubles final between Croatian players, something that, although it is not the first time in the history of the Olympic Games, happened only in 1904 between American players and for the last time four years later, in 1908 between British players. So it has been 113 years since this incredible gold medal match feat was not attested.

The game is scheduled for tomorrow, and although the exact time is not yet confirmed, it is believed that it will be played around 8, after the bronze match between New Zealanders and Americans.

It is true that, although four Croatian tennis players will compete for first place, only two of them will be able to win the long-awaited gold medal. However, it can be said from now on that, regardless of the result, it is a historic moment and a great joy for Croatian tennis and sport in general. Congratulations to Mate Pavić, Marin Cilić, Nikola Mektić, and Ivan Dodig for the success!

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Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić into Olympic Doubles Semifinals, Confirm Medal for Croatia!

July 28, 2021 - Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić thus join Marin Čilić and Ivan Dodig in the Olympic doubles semifinals!

Croatia's Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić won a spot in the semifinals of the Olympic Games in Tokyo with a victory against Japan's Nishikori and McLachlan 6:3, 6:3.

"It feels good, we played a really good match. Honestly, I expected it to be harder. Nishikori is a great player in singles and McLachlan great in doubles. It was a lot harder for us the day before yesterday against the Italians. Today we served well and saved some key break points that broke the match. We are overjoyed and look forward to the semi-finals," Pavić began in a statement after the match.

Their next opponents are team USA's Tennys Sandgren and Austin Krajicek, who beat Germany's Struff and Zverev 6:3, 7:6 in the quarterfinals.

"I have already lost to the Americans. It will be difficult, it is the semifinals, so we can't expect anything else," Mektić commented briefly.

Pavić is pleased that they have become accustomed to the conditions in Tokyo.

"It's playing more and more, the ball is more on the court, it's not all over with service and returns. We've gotten used to the conditions and I hope we continue to play like this."

"There is no fatigue, the stakes are too high to think about fatigue," Mektić added.

Along with Pavić and Mektić, Marin Čilić and Ivan Dodig also reached the semifinals. 

"The Croatian public and journalists write everything, it could be read that the way to gold is open for us, that in principle no one plays at the Olympics except us, which is a total absurdity. We can see it in the results and difficult matches between us and Čilić and Dodig; I don't know if people are aware of what this result is for us and for them. We were the only ones to have two representatives in the quarterfinals and now in the semifinals. It's fascinating. We all want a Croatian final and that would be a wonderful story, but we have another difficult match," said Pavić, and Mektić agreed:

"We are not modest, but realistic. Doubles are a game where several balls decide. The scoring system is very open and equalizes things. As phenomenal as our form and results are, we have won a lot of matches on just one or two balls. We are aware that we have to play our best tennis to win."

Croatia has thus confirmed at least one medal in tennis doubles!

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Monday, 26 July 2021

Croatia Tennis at Olympic Games: Vekić into 3rd Round, Čilić Out, Mektić and Pavić in Quarters!

July 26, 2021 - Croatia tennis at Olympic Games - Donna Vekić moves to the 3rd round, Čilić has been eliminated from the singles tournament, and Mektić and Pavić are in the quarterfinals! 

Croatian tennis player Donna Vekić advanced to the round of 16 of the Olympic Games in Tokyo after defeating the third-best tennis player in the world, Belarusian Arina Sabalenka, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (3) in the 2nd round match. 

After two hours and 40 minutes, Vekić achieved a great victory, winning a place in the round of 16, where she will face Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina, against whom she has not yet played.

"Yes, proud of both yesterday's and today's match. Aryna is playing the best tennis ever this year, she is third in the world and it is not easy to beat her, she even led in the third set. But I fought like a lioness and finally won," said Donna, who spent nearly five and a half hours in two matches in Tokyo, in the scorching sun and unbearable conditions.

In the fight for the quarterfinals, Vekić will face Rybakina.

"We have never played or trained, so I don't know her. We will do an analysis and get ready," said Donna. 

Marin Čilić was eliminated in the 2nd round of the singles tournament. He was defeated by Pablo Carreno Busta 5:7, 6:4, 6:4.

The Spaniard, currently the 11th player in the world, celebrated for the first time against the Croatian, who is 38th in the ATP rankings.

Čilić took the first set (7:5), but Busta proved his excellent form, which he showed by winning the tournament in Hamburg last week, with a turnaround and a victory.

Čilić's only victory in singles at the Games in Tokyo remained the one he barely won in the first round, after three and a half hours, against Joao Menezes, the 267th player in the world.

However, Čilić remains in Tokyo in the doubles tournament with Ivan Dodig.

Croatian tennis players Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić reached the doubles quarterfinals of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, defeating Italy's Lorenzo Musetti / Lorenzo Sonego 7:5, 6:7 (5) 10:7 after just over two hours of play.

In the quarterfinals, they will play against Japan's Ben McLachlan / Kei Nishikori, who defeated Great Britain's Murray / Skupski 6:3, 6:4 in the round of 16 after one hour and 21 minutes of play.

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