The Davis Cup quarterfinal was the focus this weekend as the U.S. played Croatia in Europe. In the fourth rubber today, with America’s back against the wall, James Blake tried to maintain his undefeated record vis-à-vis 20 year-old, Marin Cilic. However, Blake came up short against the talented youngster, as Cilic prevailed 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 sending Croatia to the semifinals.
After Blake was unable to take the lead in spite of numerous break point opportunities in the first set, Cilic broke when the American’s forehand went long in the first set for a 5-3 edge. Then, with a love game, the Croatian carried the first set. In the second set, after holding serve, with a forehand up the line winner, Blake managed a break point. But, that evaporated when James dumped a backhand down the line into the net. With excellent serves, Cilic held. At 2 all, after Blake failed to convert on a game point, Cilic made a service return winner for break point. Subsequently, Cilic capitalized with a Blake double fault to go ahead 4-2. Soon afterward, Cilic broke a second time to take a two set lead.
After comfortably holding serve to open the third, with a forehand up the line winner, Cilic arrived at break point. The Croatian scored when the American’s backhand hit the net and sailed long. Immediately, with a couple of backhand winners, Blake broke back for 1-2. Always under the knife, Blake faced several break points and dismissed them including five in the eighth game. Perhaps a little obfuscated, Cilic committed a forehand error to give Blake a break point; the latter grabbed the edge when the former’s forehand went long. James won the third and forced a fourth set.
On his first break point chance in the fourth, thanks to a backhand error by his rival, Cilic converted to take a 2-0 lead. Then, the Croat consolidated with a love game. Never in danger on serve, with a crosscourt forehand winner, Marin broke James once more to secure the set and Croatia’s semifinal berth.