Davis Cup Final 2018: Marin Cilic, Croatia Dominate France in Friday Matches

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistNovember 23, 2018

Croatia's Marin Cilic reacts during his match against France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga during the Davis Cup final tennis match between France and Croatia, on November 23, 2018 in Lille, northern France. (Photo by Philippe HUGUEN / AFP)        (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Croatia seized control of the 2018 Davis Cup final on Friday, as wins in the opening two matches gave them a 2-0 advantage over hosts France after Day 1 at the Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille.

In the first contest of the day, Croatia's Borna Coric produced a brilliant display to topple home favourite Jeremy Chardy in straight sets, setting the tone for a disappointing day for the hosts.

That meant the pressure was on France's Jo Wilfried-Tsonga in the second rubber, but he came up against a formidable opponent in world No. 7 Marin Cilic. The Croat was in total control throughout, as he too romped to a three-set win.

Here are the results from the first day of the 2018 Davis Cup final, the schedule for the weekend and look back at some of the highlights from France so far.



(CRO) Borna Coric bt. (FRA) Jeremy Chardy, 6-2, 7-5, 6-4

(CRO) Marin Cilic bt. (FRA) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4


(FRA) Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut vs. (CRO) Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavic


(FRA) Jeremy Chardy vs. (CRO) Marin Cilic

(FRA) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. (CRO) Borna Coric


Friday Recap

Croatia's Borna Coric celebrates after victory in his singles rubber against France's Jeremy Chardy  during the Davis Cup final tennis match between France and Croatia at The Pierry-Mauroy Stadium in northern France on November 23, 2018. (Photo by DENIS C

After winning the prize at this venue a year ago, those turning up in Lille would have been desperate to see the home players create another memorable day for the French team. However, the talented Coric sapped some enthusiasm away from the spectators early on with his dazzling play.

Throughout the match with Chardy, the Croat was the dominant force, as he totted up 23 winners over the course of the three sets.

While the Frenchman always looked the more threatening on serve, in general play Coric always appeared to be able to outmanoeuvre his opponent with his intelligent groundstrokes. After winning the first set 6-2, the 22-year-old didn't look back.

It was evident just how much it meant for him to take the victory:

Davis Cup @DavisCup

🇫🇷0️⃣🆚1️⃣🇭🇷 @borna_coric defeats Chardy 62 75 64 to give Croatia the lead! #DavisCupFinal https://t.co/3WjuTbLacG

After the match, there was some concern for the Croatia team despite this emphatic win, as Coric revealed he is playing with an injury issue at the moment: 

José Morgado @josemorgado

Coric confirmed he is still feeling his thigh. "I can play with this pain. Not for 5 hours, but I can play". Good day of rest tomorrow before a possible decisive 5th rubber (I doubt they will need him, btw).

Following that match, there was a lot of pressure on Tsonga, who has been inactive for much of 2018. While he was the underdog against Cilic, the Frenchman has turned in big performances against the odds throughout his career and has the game to trouble the best players on tour.

But there didn't appear to be much hope of an upset, as Cilic went about his business with the aura of an elite player, breaking in the sixth game of the opener and taking the first set with ease.

In the second, Tsonga did dig in, although his opponent was consistently the stronger player in the clutch moments, breaking late on and then moving two sets clear:

Davis Cup @DavisCup

Croatia in control as @cilic_marin takes the second set 75. The visitors need one more set to complete the perfect start in Lille 🇫🇷0️⃣🆚1️⃣🇭🇷 #DavisCupFinal https://t.co/VgEWrCj4rV

There was a sliver of hope for the French player in the third, as he had two chances to break his opponent in the fourth game with the set on serve. They each slipped by, and a buoyed Cilic was the recipient of a gift in the next game, with Tsonga putting down a double fault on break point.

From there, the Croatian served his way to a win and put his nation within touching distance of the title.

These results mean France have to win all of the remaining rubbers to keep their hopes of glory alive. Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut will be looking to spark the comeback against Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavic on Saturday.