Tennis

Croatia favourites in Davis Cup final – Del Potro

Croatia are the favourites heading into the Davis Cup final in Zagreb, says Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro.

The home side are looking to win the team title for the second time, while Argentina hope to improve on a record of four final defeats.

Marin Cilic plays Federico Delbonis in the opening singles on Friday, followed by Ivo Karlovic against Del Potro.

“We are hoping that this long quest for the cup title will come to an end,” said Del Potro.

“They are at home and have a very strong team, but we are looking forward to a great weekend and we are also very proud to be in another final.”

Davis Cup final, Zagreb (November 25-27)
Friday, 13:00 GMT: Marin Cilic (Cro) v Federico Delbonis (Arg)
To follow: Ivo Karlovic (Cro) v Juan Martin del Potro (Arg)
Saturday, 14:00: Ivan Dodig & Franko Skugor (Cro) v Leonardo Mayer & Guido Pella (Arg)
Sunday,13:00: Marin Cilic (Cro) v Juan Martin del Potro (Arg)
To follow: Ivo Karlovic (Cro) v Federico Delbonis (Cro)

Croatia, who won the Davis Cup in 2005, have a significant advantage in terms of singles rankings, with number six Cilic and number 20 Karlovic lining up on day one.

Argentina will hope Delbonis can play above his ranking of 41, while Del Potro has been playing at a higher level that his current position of 38 as he makes his way back from several years of wrist injuries.

Del Potro was the last man to beat world number one Andy Murray when he helped Argentina defeat reigning champions Great Britain in the semi-finals in September.

“I’ll have to be focused against Karlovic because one break of serve could cost me the match,” added Del Potro before the final, which takes place on an indoor hard court.

“It is great to be in the final at this point of my career after so many injuries.”

Former football World Cup winner Diego Maradona is expected at the Zagreb Arena to see whether Argentina can go one better than the finals of 1981, 2006, 2008 and 2011.

“It will be nice to have Maradona here but it makes no difference to us that he will be cheering on his compatriots,” said Cilic.

“There is little or nothing between the two teams and hence our passionate fans can make all the difference.”

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