The morning got off to a great start for Croatia at the Olympics, after the couple Marin Cilić and Ivan Dodig beat their New Zealand rivals in the semi-final, thus securing at least one medal for their country. But in recent days, everyone was closely following the fact that two pairs of Croatian tennis players reached the semifinals, as the brand-new champions of the doubles category at Wimbledon, Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić, had also managed to reach those instances.
With the four Croatian tennis players in the semifinals, a bronze medal was already confirmed for the Croatian delegation. But with today’s victory for Cilić and Dodig (6-2, 6-2) over their New Zealand counterparts Daniell and Venus, Croatia had already secured at least one silver medal. Even before it happened, everyone was wondering, “What if there was a final between Croats?”.
? ovo je čudesnooo! Imamo hrvatski finale u Tokiju te osigurano ? i ? u konkurenciji teniskih parova!
? nakon para Marin Čilić/Ivan Dodig, meč za najviše postolje izborio je na uvjerljiv način i par Nikola Mektić/Mate Pavić koji nije dao šansu Amerikancima! ? pic.twitter.com/eXrLGEulrM
— Hrvatski olimpijski odbor (@hrv_olimp_odbor) July 29, 2021
And that’s how it went from imagination to reality. Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić defeated their American rivals Krajicek and Sandgren (6-4, 6-4), and Croatia thus secured a gold and silver medal in tennis in the doubles category, in what will be an unprecedented and exciting Croatian Gold Medal match in a tennis final.
To reach the grand final, Mektić and Pavić had to beat Brazilians Demoliner and Merlo in a close match (7-6, 6-4) in the first round. They then beat the Italians Musetti and Sonego in the second round, also in a difficult match (7-5, 6-7, 10-7). This earned them qualification for the quarterfinals, where they beat the locals McLachlan and Nishikori (6-3, 6-3). At this point, the dream of the Olympic medal was already approaching, with the Croatian tennis players in the semifinals. Today they beat Americans Austin Krajicek and Tennys Sandgren 6-4 in both sets, in a match that lasted 1 hour and 21 minutes.
Mektić and Pavić, the best tennis pair of today, have 51 victories and only five defeats this year. They both arrived in Tokyo as the recent champions of the Wimbledon doubles tournament this month.
Croatian sport reaches a historic moment with the first tennis doubles final between Croatian players, something that, although it is not the first time in the history of the Olympic Games, happened only in 1904 between American players and for the last time four years later, in 1908 between British players. So it has been 113 years since this incredible gold medal match feat was not attested.
It’s an all-#CRO men’s doubles gold medal match ?
No.1 seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic join their compatriots Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig in the men’s doubles final where one team will become the first-ever Croatian Olympic gold medallists in #tennis#Tokyo2020 | #Olympics
— ITF (@ITFTennis) July 29, 2021
The game is scheduled for tomorrow, and although the exact time is not yet confirmed, it is believed that it will be played around 8, after the bronze match between New Zealanders and Americans.
It is true that, although four Croatian tennis players will compete for first place, only two of them will be able to win the long-awaited gold medal. However, it can be said from now on that, regardless of the result, it is a historic moment and a great joy for Croatian tennis and sport in general. Congratulations to Mate Pavić, Marin Cilić, Nikola Mektić, and Ivan Dodig for the success!
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