French players united in defeat against Davis Cup overhaul

CROATIA have won the last ever edition of the Davis Cup in its current form as Marin Cilic defeated Lucas Pouille to secure a 3-1 win.

Cilic was part of the side that lost 3-2 to Argentina in 2016 showpiece and he was ruthless in ensuring his country did not suffer another heart-breaking defeat.

Cilic beat Pouille 7-6, 6-3, 6-3 to give them an unassailable 3-1 lead over hosts and defending champions France.

A defining moment of the first set was the sixth game - Cilic with the score 3:2 for the first time reached the break points and immediately took the feed Tsonga.

Cilic's weight of shot allowed him to break decisively in the fifth game of the second set.

The 22-year-old Coric needed a brief medical time-out when he led 4-3 in the third set but returned to complete a convincing win and put Croatia in front.

"I didn't lose my serve in the match and I played outstanding tennis throughout", said Cilic.

Croatia's sports-mad President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic was among the fans at courtside to savour a landmark title which offered some consolation after France beat Croatia in this year's football World Cup final.

"We can t wait to be in Zagreb, like the footballers when they came back from the World Cup", said Zeljko Krajan, the Croatia captain.

France's team captain Yannick Noah reacts during the Davis Cup final match between France's Nicolas Mahut and Pierre Hughes Herbert and Croatia's Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavic, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018 in Lille, northern France.

Victory for Croatia would give them their final Davis Cup crown since 2005, in the final staging of the historic team competition before a controversial change of format comes into place next year.

"As long as we are not definitely dead, we always try to hang on to something", said Noah, who guided France to three previous Davis Cup final triumphs, but none from behind. "I feel that in Croatia it's going to be incredible too".

Next November a new format will see 18 teams assemble in Madrid for a World Cup-style event to decide the champion.

The French tennis federation said teams will not play the final reverse singles match.

Earlier, the 12th-ranked Coric was flawless and Chardy was powerless to counter his deep groundstrokes in the first set, dropping 14 consecutive points at one point to trail 4-0.

  • Steve Townsend