Zagreb, Nov 28 (IANS) Juan Martin del Potro staged a magnificent comeback after losing the first two sets to beat Marin Cilic before Federico Delbonis defeated Ivo Karlovic to enable Argentina claim their maiden Davis Cup tennis title.
Del Potro won 6-7 (4), 2-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-3 in 4 hours 53 minutes to level the title fixture 2-2 here on Sunday.
Then it was Delbonis handily beating Karlovic 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in the fifth and final match of the tie to hand the long-coveted trophy to Argentina, who have been beaten four times in the final earlier.
The fifth and last matchup was forced with Del Potro’s win earlier on Sunday and pitted Delbonis against the big-serving Karlovic.
The 37-year-old Croatian had a 3-1 head-to-head career lead, although Delbonis had won their most recent match-up last month in Tokyo.
If Karlovic had prevailed, it would have been Croatia’s second David Cup title (after 2005) and he would have been the oldest player to win a finals match in Cup competition.
The matchup between Del Potro and Cilic was a nail-biter all the way through, as the Argentine trailed by two sets but then clawed his way back in an emotional and spectacular performance before some 15,000 spectators at the Zagreb Arena.
Del Potro suffered from cramps, but he kept fighting even when his serve was broken in the first game of the decisive set, subsequently breaking Cilic twice.
After Del Potro’s win, Delbonis played calmly and prevailed over Karlovic in straight sets in about two hours.
“It’s a dream come true. We’ve played for our country, with our hearts and the best we could. The fans helped us on every point. I tried to stay focused to do what I had to do; if not, it would have been a disaster,” said an emotional Delbonis after the match.