Cilic stepped in instead of Draganja and the change turned out to be a good decision, as the boys from Međugorje clinched the first point for Croatia
Ivan Dodig and Marin Cilic kept Croatia alive in the Davis Cup quarterfinal match with the United States, beating twins Bob and Mike Bryan 6-2, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 on July 16. 2016.
Dodig and Cilic cut Croatia’s deficit to 2-1 heading into the reverse singles Sunday on the Tualatin Hills hard court. The United States took a 2-0 lead Friday when Jack Sock and John Isner won the opening singles matches.
The Croatians made a last-minute substitution, inserting Cilic, ranked No. 12 in the world, in place of Marin Draganja in doubles.
Croatian captain Zeljko Krajan said the team began discussing the substitution Friday night, and made the move a few hours before the match. Cilic said he feels fine physically heading into Sunday.
“The conditions here are not too difficult; the weather, not too humid and not too demanding,” Cilic said. “In Davis Cup, it’s a bit tougher dealing with emotions because you’re pumped up and that takes some energy. But I pretty much feel fine.”
On Sunday, Isner will open against Cilic, and Sock will face Borna Coric.
The U.S.-Croatia winner will advance to the World Group semifinals, facing the France-Czech Republic quarterfinal winner Sept. 16-18. If the United States advances, it will play host to the semifinals at a site to be determined.
The lineup shuffle didn’t surprise the United States.
“I think it’s fair to say he’s a better doubles player than Draganja,” U.S. captain Jim Courier said. “That made a lot of sense from their standpoint,”
The Bryans didn’t relish having Cilic in the lineup.
“Cilic is dangerous. He brings great returns and some nasty groundies, and his serve is pretty strong,” Bob Bryan said. “So putting him in there was probably a smart play,”
The Bryans, who are 38, were handed just their fifth Davis Cup loss in 29 matches. The Croatians broke their serve six times.
“We weren’t making a lot of first serves, weren’t getting them in trouble from the start. They just kind of outplayed us in every aspect of the game today,” Bob Bryan said. “Those guys are two good players. That’s the type of match that we have to play at the top of our game to take them out. We just didn’t do it.”
The doubles win gave Cilic a much-needed boost of confidence after he blew a two-set lead to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon quarterfinals, then to Sock on Friday.
“I was thinking a little bit after yesterday’s loss that maybe I was a little mentally drained,” Cilic said. “Wimbledon left a small mark on me. This gives me good sensation for playing.”