Čilić Breaks Popko to Give Croatia Lead in Davis Cup Quarterfinals

Daniela Rogulj

Croatia leads Kazakhstan 1:0 after the first match of the Davis Cup quarterfinals in Varaždin.

Croatia’s best tennis player Marin Čilić defeated Kazakhstan’s Dmitry Popko with a convincing 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 score in one hour and 41 minutes of play. A victory over the 258th player on the ATP ranking has thus given the Croatia national team the first leg of the Davis Cup quarterfinals, which will be held through Sunday at the Varaždin Arena, reports Gol.hr on April 6, 2018. 

The mostly unknown 21-year-old Kazakhstani player managed to keep up with the third best tennis player in the world for four games, but then 2-2 in the first set, Čilić won a series of nine games for 6-2, 5-0. By the end of the match, Popko managed to catch only three games, one in the second and two in the third set.

This was the 25th individual win for Marin Čilić in the Davis Cup (25-10), and counting doubles, his 35th triumph (35-16). Čilic is already a record Croatian tennis player by the number of wins in individual Davis Cup matches, and one win is still needed to equalize with the overall record player, Ivan Ljubičić (36-19).

In the second match of today’s program, Borna Ćorić (ATP – 28th) will play against the best Kazakhstani tennis player Mihail Kukushkin (ATP – 92nd).

On Saturday beginning at 15:00, the doubles will take the court. Croatia coach Željko Krajan has signed Ivan Dodig and Nikola Mektić to play against Kazakhstan’s combination of Timur Habibulin and Aleksandr Nedovjesov.

On Sunday, the program begins at 14:00 with the match between Čilić and Kukushkin, followed by Ćorić and Popko.

In the event the Croatia national team wins the Davis Cup quarterfinals, they will play the semifinals in September against the winner of the USA and Belgium.


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