France will take on Croatia in the final of the 2018 Davis Cup after the latter saw off the USA in a thrilling finish to their semi-final on Sunday.
The French beat Spain 3-2, while Croatia overcame the USA by the same scoreline.
Croatia, who led the Americans 2-1 after the first three rubbers, were taken to a decisive fifth after Sam Querrey came from behind to beat Marin Cilic in four sets, 6-7 (2), 7-6 (6), 6-3, 6-4.
The latter took the lead after a tight opening set ended in a tiebreak, and he looked set to do the same in the second when he took a 6-1 lead.
Querrey dug deep to muster seven consecutive points to level the scores at one set apiece, though, and from there the momentum was firmly behind him.
As the match wore on, Cilic grew increasingly frustrated:
The American was able to break him three times across the final two sets to level the scores at 2-2, ensuring the winner of the tie came down to Borna Coric and Frances Tiafoe.
It quickly became clear the fifth rubber would be a high-quality contest:
The pair battled to a tiebreaker in the opening set, but Tiafoe did not drop a single point to give the Americans the lead in the match and the semi-final.
Coric responded in style, taking the second set 6-1:
Tennis writer Tumaini Carayol was impressed:
This level from Coric. 👀— Tumaini Carayol (@tumcarayol) September 16, 2018
The Croatian was on his way to a similarly strong third set as he raced to a 5-1 lead, but Tiafoe not only fought back to a tiebreaker, he took it 13-11.
Coric showed his resolve by hitting straight back and claiming the fourth set 6-1 to force the decider.
This time the Croatian managed to hold his nerve, and he grabbed the crucial break for 3-1 with a passing shot which left Tiafoe stranded at the net.
Tiafoe kept going but simply could not find a way back. Coric claimed the fifth set 6-3 and a place in the final after four hours and six minutes.
Tennis commentator David Law shared his view:
Croatia beat USA 3-2 (Coric 6-3 Tiafoe in the deciding set of the tie).— David Law (@DavidLawTennis) September 16, 2018
Encapsulates everything problematic in both the current and proposed #DavisCup formats.
Epic, wonderful contest (that we lose), but doesn’t resonate in current format in USA and countries like the UK.
As for France, they had already booked their place by taking an unassailable 3-0 lead across Friday and Saturday. With the pressure off, Spain pulled back some pride thanks to Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Marcel Granollers.
Remarkably, both matches featured lengthy third sets with the game tallies reaching double figures.
Ramos-Vinolas beat Richard Gasquet 1-6, 6-4, 14-12, while Granollers saw off Nicolas Mahut 6-7 (2), 6-3, 13-11.