The Croatian Davis Cup Team didn't want to have much shame to their game anymore, but they were looking down the racket of being a three-time loser. They'd lost to Argentina in 2016 and Spain in 2017. They couldn't take another upset.
The team comprised a few singular sensational players as well as doubles specialists. Marin Cilic was the veteran, Franko Skugor, Ivan Dodig another long-standing Croatian icon, Mate Pavic, the doubles specialist and the baby of the group Borna Coric who had already sealed two titles of his own in singles.
France's Davis Cup had their outstanding players from Lucas Pouille, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga coming off of knee surgery, Jeremy Chardy and the doubles team of Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert captured many titles themselves.
But despite the steam and energy the French team did sting the Croatian group but couldn't stop them from overpowering and winning. Here are five reasons that made the Croatians a bit spicier and intimidating: 1) Marin Cilic, the longer standing Davis Cup participant started playing over 10 years ago and hasn't won during his helm.
He did this year. He came in feisty, hungry and just tired of taking second best. He did that for two years, in 2016 with Argentina and in 2017 in Spain. 2) The youngest of the group, Borna Coric this year has become more aggressive and competitive winning his second ATP title at the 2018 Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany, his first grass title and showing superior skill over the top player Roger Federer to do it.
Coric's strategies to dismantle top ranked players is impeccable. "I've been part of this team since 2013, so I didn't have to wait quite so long as Marin for the victory...This is the cherry on the top", he said happily.
He also defeated Andy Murray at last year's 2017 Miami Open. 3) At the end of the season many players are ailing from injury or surgeries, but the Croatian team were over their injuries with Marin Cilic having a knee injury at the beginning of the tour's Australian Open, then withdrew from the Miami Open suffering at Monte Carlo saying "I began feeling sharp knee pain back in Monaco...and I decided the best option is to pause and focus on rehab".
Borna Coric is no stranger to ailments, injuries and surgery as he had to undergo knee surgery in 2016 and rehabbed well. Then it was neck ailments for him in May as well as October of which he received specified therapies for relief.
They were in great shape to play Davis Cup and as Cilic says "We were both in great form at the right time". 4) The team were perfected in their performance at Lille, France with him and Coric in singles as he gladly admits "...in three matches we did not lose a serve--it says much about our level and how well we played".
Cilic has seen matches where he's lead, lost focus and was on the losing end. But not this time. 5) There are a few veterans Croatia had not only Marin Cilic but Ivan Dodig who has one singles title in his career and is highly proficient in doubles capturing 11 titles.
Mate Pavic reached the doubles Hamburg final and qualified to be at the prestigious Nitto ATP Finals in London. Pavic teamed with Oliver Marach at the Nitto Finals and won the Doubles title. He was totally surprised and said that it was really unexpected for they only wanted to do was qualify and walked away with the title.
Croatia has been rewarded with great players in their team along with having an astute Captain Zelijko Krajan leading his team to two Davis Cup trophies one in 2005 and now in 2018. Krajan was an ATP player from 1997 to 2004 when he suffered a quadriceps team and had to retire in 2005.
He went into coaching and his players were Dinara Safina, Dominika Cibulkova, Jelena Jankovic, Laura Robson and Marcos Baghdatis. He might have had a 'heads up' in proficiency for he was Borna Coric's coach four years ago but had to discontinue his coaching to be with his family.
Marin Cilic sums up his feelings on the victory saying "It's not every day that you become a world champion...For us, it's a dream come true".