Croatian tennis player Marin Cilic has defeated France’s Lucas Pouille 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, 6-3 in straight sets to secure his country’s second Davis Cup title. Cilic delivered the final blow to dethrone defending champion France 3-1 in the final on Sunday, held at the Pierre Mauroy Stadium in the northern French city of Lille. Pouille took Cilic to a tie-break in the first set but could not mount a challenge in the next two, losing in two hours, 19 minutes. Croatia won all three singles matches in straight sets.

“It’s just a dream weekend, we all dreamed of playing as well all weekend. We did not even concede a service (in singles),” said Cilic.

It was the last final in the traditional format before a radical reorganisation of the venerable competition. “Yes, that makes it special,” said Cilic.

“It’s not every day that you become a world champion!” Cilic said after two hour and 19 minutes of play.

The victory gives Croatia some revenge for their football team’s defeat by France in the World Cup final in July. “We can’t wait to be in Zagreb, like the footballers when they came back from the World Cup,” said Zeljko Krajan, the Croatia captain.

“For us, it’s a dream come true, for this nation, we are so passionate,” he added. “You can see the fans, they are enjoying themselves, and I feel that in Croatia it is going to be incredible too.”

Croatia last bagged the David Cup title way back in 2005 against Slovakia. The big-serve Cilic had been a part of the team that finished runner-up to Argentina in 2016.

The Davis Cup format is set to change next year from a year-long event to something more akin to a “World Cup of tennis,” a move that was approved by the International Tennis Federation in August.

(With Quotes from Agencies)