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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 December 2005, 16:30 GMT
Croatia win first Davis Cup title
Mario Ancic
Friday 2 December
Ljubicic bt Kucera 6-3 6-4 6-3
Hrbaty bt Ancic 7-6 6-3 6-7 6-4
Saturday 3 December
Ancic/Ljubicic bt Hrbaty/Mertinak 7-6 6-3 7-6
Sunday 4 December
Hrbaty bt Ljubicic 4-6 6-3 6-4 3-6 6-4
Ancic bt Mertinak 7-6 6-3 6-4
Croatia won the Davis Cup for the first time when Mario Ancic beat Slovakia's Michal Mertinak in the deciding rubber.

The tense finale was set up after Dominik Hrbaty's five-set win over Ivan Ljubicic had levelled the match.

Ancic initially struggled but quickly picked up the pace and cruised through 7-6 (7-1) 6-3 6-4.

It was the first time either country had made the final and Croatia are the first unseeded team ever to have won the Davis Cup.

Croatia's captain Nikki Pilic set a piece of history of his own by becoming the first captain to win the trophy for different nations.

He led Germany to Davis Cup titles in 1988, 1989 and 1993.

He said: "The Davis Cup is one of the greatest competitions in the world and I'm so proud that my team is number one in 2005.

"Just because some nations are bigger, it doesn't mean they are better than we are.

"What's important is the feeling that with my own people we won it and for us it's an historic moment."

The opening set between Ancic and Mertinak was a close affair dominated by the serve, but it was the Croat who came through a nervous tie-break.

Ancic took control after that, dominating from the baseline, and silenced the partisan crowd by easing to the second set.

Mertinak was unable to turn things round in front of his supporters.

Slovakia began the third day needing to win all of their rubbers and they got off to a great start with Hrbaty's victory over Ljubicic.

Hrbaty, ranked 19, had earlier come back from a set down to shock the world number nine Ljubicic 4-6 6-3 6-4 3-6 6-4.

The Croat had been bidding to match John McEnroe's record of 12 Davis Cup victories in a season.

Afterwards he said: "I'm the happiest loser in the world today.

"I would like to thank Mario (Ancic) for bringing the winning point. It was a great effort, it's a fantastic win."

But his surprise defeat was soon forgotten by the Croatian supporters as world number 22 Ancic outplayed Mertinak.

The Slovak, ranked a lowly 165 in the world, had been brought in as a late replacement for veteran Karol Kucera, who lost the opening rubber of the final to Ljubicic.

Slovakia were without their number two player Karol Beck, who withdrew fromn the match after aggravating a left-knee injury.

He had denied unconfirmed reports of failing a doping test after the semi-final win over Argentina.

Interview: Mario Ancic

Croatia lead in Davis Cup final
03 Dec 05 |  Tennis
Beck withdraws from Cup doubles
03 Dec 05 |  Tennis
Honours even in Davis Cup final
02 Dec 05 |  Tennis

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