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Coric edges out Bautista Agut to put Croatia 1-0 up against Spain in Davis Cup quarters

Marin Cilic can clinch Croatia’s place in the semis if he can beat Pablo Carreno Busta in the second singles match

Oscar J Barroso/Shutterstock/SIPA

Borna Coric hit 14 aces as he gave Croatia the perfect start to their Davis Cup quarter-final with Spain with a 6-4, 7-6 (4) win over Roberto Bautista Agut in Malaga on Wednesday.

In a match with numerous long rallies from the baseline, Coric break once to win the first set and then held his nerve in the tiebreak, winning it 7-4 to put Croatia in command.

“I didn’t serve this well since probably Cincinnati (in August, where he won the title), to be honest,” Coric said. “Maybe in Tokyo in the first match I was serving this well as well. Probably since then I just didn’t serve on the same level. I think I had like almost 14 aces or something like that.”

So obviously it’s much easier to play like that. I can relax more on the service games when he’s serving, because I know most likely I will hold my serve. So that’s made a difference.

Marin Cilic will try to secure victory for Croatia by beating Pablo Carreno Busta in the second singles.

Coric maintains recent streak against Bautista Agut

With Spain missing the world’s top two-ranked players, Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal, Bautista Agut had the task of going first but Coric extended his recent winning record over him to give Croatia control.

The 26-year-old, who made his Davis Cup debut as a 13-year-old, took his Davis Cup singles record to12-9 with a fourth straight win over Bautista Agut to lead their head to heads 5-4.

Coric hit 14 aces and the only break point he faced came when he was serving for the opening set, having broken for 4-3 with an epic rally. He went on to serve out the game for the set.

Coric impregnable on serve, despite interruption

Bautista Agut just could not get a read on the Coric serve, the Croatian dropping just seven points behind his serve in the set, including just two on 11 second serve points.

The pair had to wait in a worrying moment when climate change protestors burst onto the court and tried to tie themselves to the net, before being removed by security.

The Spaniard was equally confident on serve and neither man had a single break point in the entire set as it headed to a tiebreak.

Coric stormed to a 6-3 lead and though Bautista Agut saved one match point, the Croat held on to put his side in control in the best-of-three match tie.

“I think I played a good match,” Bautista Agut said. “I think during the rallies I was feeling better and better. I think his level of serve made the difference in the match today.”

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