Ivan Dodig and Nikola Mektic clinched Croatia’s second tie victory of the inaugural ATP Cup, dominating Poles Hubert Hurkacz and Lukasz Kubot 6-2, 6-1 to earn a 2-1 triumph for their country on Monday in Sydney.
Dodig and Mektic were impressive in their win on Saturday against Austrians Oliver Marach and Jurgen Melzer after Croatia had already clinched that tie. But the Croats stepped up their game another level to cruise past the Poles in exactly one hour.
Hurkacz and Kubot have now lost two deciding doubles matches in Sydney, also falling short against Argentina’s Maximo Gonzalez and Andres Molteni. Dodig and Mektic saved all four break points they faced, and lost only four first-serve points (27/31).
Everything seemed to go right for the Croats, with Dodig hitting a spinorama pick-up lob that landed perfectly just inside the baseline. Croatia now owns triumphs against Austria and Poland, with one round of Group E ties to go on Wednesday. If Croatia beats Argentina, they will qualify for the Final Eight.
The 22-year-old showed maturity beyond his modest 35 career match wins, leveraging his imposing first serve and controlled aggression to surprise Coric. The Croatian struggled against Hurkacz’s much flatter balls than he faced two days ago when he had the answers to the heavier ball of World No. 4 Dominic Thiem.
After failing to convert a break point in the second game of the second set, the Pole didn’t let another chance escape two games later when he broke Coric for a 3-1 lead.
Taking advantage of 26 unforced errors from Coric, Hurkacz claimed his fourth break in the final game of the match. He also hit 19 winners to Coric’s eight and won 60 of the 95 points in the match.
“This was one of the best matches I have played,” Hurkacz said. “Borna is a great player and I had to play very well to beat him. Now hopefully we can play our best tennis [in the doubles match] and win this.”
With plenty of Croatian flags waving in the crowd, the former World No. 3 was patient against Zuk’s inspired play. It was the World No. 448’s first tour-level match, but he showed composure you’d expect from a veteran on Ken Rosewall Arena. Cilic now has 504 tour-level wins, though, and it showed in crucial moments with him playing just a bit more solid under pressure.
The biggest moment of the match came with Cilic serving at 5/6 in the first-set tie-break. A win in the first set over a former Grand Slam champion would have given Zuk plenty of confidence, but after putting the return back into play, the 20-year-old eventually missed a defensive backhand long.
That was the only opening Cilic needed to take the set, and he didn’t look back from there. The Croat continuously applied pressure, even though he converted just one of 13 break points. Cilic withstood eight Zuk aces and won 85 per cent of his own first-serve points en route to a two-hour, 10-minute triumph.
“The level was very good again. Good serving.
Today, if I have to pick some things that I need to do better, it’s just converting break points. I had a lot of them,” Cilic said. “But otherwise, I felt that the level was quite good. I was being aggressive.”
The crowd roared as Zuk launched a final backhand long, with Cilic pumping his fist towards the Croatian Team Zone in celebration.