The team of Nalbasuso made the running.
Argentina takes a step nearer the last four
David Nalbandian and Jose Acasuso defeated Marin Cilic and Ivan Ljubicic 6-4 62 36 64 to give Argentina a 2-1 lead in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group quarterfinal tie against Croatia in Zagreb. The Argentines have successfully rebounded after losing the opening rubber and are now one step away from a home semifinal tie against Australia.
Both teams made changes from the original nominations. Mario Ancic is nursing a back problem and was replaced by Marin Cilic. And for Argentina, Agustin Calleri , who played and lost a heartbreaker on Friday, was replaced by Jose Acasuso, the best ranked Argentinian doubles player. David Nalbandian was expecting a much tougher match had Ancic played.
"No doubt. It would have been extremely difficult had Ancic played. Marin Cilic is a talented player but made many mistakes at the beginning of the match".
The doubles match looked a pretty easy affair for the most part of the first two sets.
It was a one-way street from the start as Ivan Ljubicic was broken in the very first game of the match and Cilic made some easy volley mistakes under pressure. Acasuso and Nalbandian took full advantage and eased to the first set.
Things got worse for the Croats in the second set. Cilic and Ljubicic both dropped serves, and the match looked all but over. But, as on Friday, Ljubicic led a comeback, taking an early break in the third and holding on to take the set.
Argentina, the better team
The fourth set was also a tight affair. Ljubicic saved two break points in the fourth game as did Acasuso in the ninth before Cilic’s serve was broken. Some poor volleys, deprived the Croats of a fourth set tie-break, but the bottom line of this story is that Argentina was the better team.
Ljubicic was full of praise for Marin Cilic.
"Apart from the first game of the match Cilic played great. It was a great experience. The Argentinians were a better team, but if we took the fourth set, who know. Better and more lucky".
Cilic felt the same as his captain, the rest of the Argentinians, Jose Acasuso, and the captain Alberto Mancini felt it was a "tough match, but Argentina played better in the end".
Croatia in unfamiliar position
The Croatian dream is wearing thin at the moment, as for the first time since 2004 against France in Metz in the Davis Cup World Group first round, Croatia is in the losing position after the doubles. On both occasions, Croatia was without its best doubles team. Now they will have to fight for their lives.
"On Thursday I said we need a miracle. Now I say, we need one surprise, one big, big surprise".
That's how Ivan Ljubicic sees things. Dark cloud still reigns over Mario Ancic fitness, and he is unlikely to play.
"This morning Mario looked more postive, but for him to play on Sunday, if the fifth rubber will be a decider, he must be 100% fit. We hope, but it's a long shot. We certainly want Mario to play, before even thinking about Cilic or Sasa Tuksar".
But first things first. Nalbandian has a chance to put this match out of Croatia’s reach.
"Our chances grow by the day. Ivan is a great player, this surface is fine for both of us. It will be a tough match, we'll see".
On Sunday, Nalbandian takes on Ljubicic in the first of the reverse singles, with Agustin Calleri and Ancic nominated for the fifth rubber