November 10, 2019 – The Croatian Tennis Federation and the current Davis Cup team coach Zeljko Krajan ended their cooperation on Saturday, just nine days before the start of the Davis Cup finals tournament in Madrid, where Croatia will be defending the title.
Below is the official statement of Croatian Tennis Federation (HTS) President Nikolic Babic:
”After a joint meeting of the HTS senior leadership and the players, which included, besides myself, Vice-Presidents Neven Nakic and Franc Regina, Executive Director Vlatko Jovanoski and Sports Director Jelena Kostanic Tosic, it was concluded that the Davis Cup final in Madrid would not be played under the leadership of national team coach Zeljko Krajan, and we have agreed to terminate our cooperation with him.
My thanks go to coach Krajan for all that we have accomplished and achieved together. However, as of today, we are going to a new format. After the dismissal of Marin Cilic due to injury and Ivo Karlovic’s inability to play, we decided to go to the Davis Cup in Madrid with young players with whom we want and can build the future of the Croatian tennis team. The players are in the first place, they are wholeheartedly playing for our national team and the country, and I am sure they will do their best to achieve the best result,” the statement read.
Croatia will play in a group against Spain and Russia in Madrid. The winners of the six groups and the two best runner-up teams will compete in the quarterfinals, with which the knockout phase of the competition begins. There will be two singles matches and one doubles match in each round, and winning two sets in enough for the victory.
Zeljko Krajan originally nominated Marin Cilic, Borna Coric, Ivan Dodig, Mata Pavic and Nikola Mektic for this tournament. After Cilic’s knee injury, which caused him to cancel his Davis Cup appearance, Krajan decided to contact 40-year veteran Ivo Karlovic, the next best-ranked Croatian tennis player (ATP-106), who last played for the national team in the final against Argentina in 2016 in Zagreb, where he replaced the then-poorly-recovered Borna Coric.
In the meantime, Karlovic has not accepted the trip to Madrid, as he will try to win back points at the Challenger in Houston next week among the top 100 tennis players in the world, which books direct placement in next year’s Australian Open main draw.
As it is not known who will lead the national team in Madrid, it is also not known who will replace Marin Cilic. There is no one behind Karlovic until the 243rd best-ranked player on the ATP list, 29-year-old Viktor Galovic. Galovic was already a member of the national team and played in the Davis Cup (1-1). Behind him is 21-year-old Borna Gojo (ATP-279) and 22-year-old Nino Serdarusic (ATP-281). If the key argument is youth, then Gojo and Serdarusic are ahead of Galovic.
“I believe that our fans and the public will respect this decision by the players and HTS and provide support and peace to the players as they go to this important Davis Cup competition in Madrid,” the HTS president concluded in an official statement.
The Croatian Tennis Federation on Monday announced they are holding a media conference in Zagreb, which will feature national team players and HTS leadership.
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