ZADAR, Croatia, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- Borna Coric, for the third time in his career, stepped up when his team was in need of a hero, beating American Frances Tiafoe 6-7 (0), 6-1, 6-7 (11), 6-1, 6-3 to send Croatia into the Davis Cup final here on Sunday.
"This is by far the most special moment of my life. This kind of matches are the ones I live for. Playing here, with this crowd... They were loud, they were into the match and they won it with me. I was playing, but without them, I would lose it in fourth, for sure," the 21-year-old Coric said about the match that ended with the last traces of sunlight.
Croatia ran onto the court to huddle with their hero who saved the day full of unexpected twists and turn-arounds that saw the USA team come just one set from the final, after they hadn't won a set during the first two singles matches on Friday.
But, as it often happens in tennis, especially in the Davis Cup ties, there are no guaranteed winners, no matter how easy it may look on the paper. Marin Cilic was 6-0 ahead in the matches against Sam Querrey. He had the home crowd behind him, he was up a set and 6-1 in the second set tie-break and he didn't get the win that would handed Croatia the place in the final.
"I was much more nervous than I was on Friday. I couldn't find my rhythm on the return and everything went downhill when I didn't serve as well as I didn't in the first set. Credit to Sam the way he fought back and deserved to win the match," Cilic said about the match that has some similarities to the one he lost against Juan Martin del Potro in the 2016 Davis Cup final in Zagreb when he came just one set away from lifting the trophy.
It was a fitting ending for Croatia that Coric became the one who saved the day as he wasn't able to help the team two years ago in the final, because he's been recovering from knee operation.
"Marin was the one who got us through so many times. Now it was up to me and I was glad to be able to help. I think this was a great team effort," Coric said.
Croatian captain Zeljko Krajan has another chance to lift the silver trophy during the finals in France scheduled from November 23-25.
"We have a great team, now that Mate Pavic is back. I just hope that everybody will stay healthy and in that case we will be able to show our quality. French team is very good, they have a great depth and they are defending champions, but we will have our chances," Krajan said.
France already broke many Croatian hearts when their football team won the FIFA World Cup final in Moscow. Now, it's France vs. Croatia for the World Cup of Tennis.
"What our football team did inspired other Croatian sports teams and gave us hope that we could do some great things, as well. I hope we can get a little revenge against French," Krajan concluded.
With new format coming in next year, the 2018 Davis Cup final will be special. Croatian tennis players have same love for the new format but you can bet that they will do everything to become the last proper Davis Cup champions.