Croatia one step away from second Davis Cup

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Borna Coric and Marin Cilic powered Croatia to the brink of their second Davis Cup with a 2-0 lead against reigning champions France after the opening day of the final in northern French city of Lille on Friday.

The 10-time winner France has to put all their hope on the pair of Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, who will take on Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavic on Saturday.

However, historic records are against the hosts, as no team has recovered from a 2-0 deficit to triumph in the final after 1939.

Without their top three singles players, Richard Gasquet, Gael Monfils or Gilles Simon, France captain Yannick Noah surprisingly gave a nod to Jeremy Chardy instead of Lucas Pouille, who had clinched the victory in the 2017 final, for Friday's opening singles match.

However, that was not repaid as Chardy lost to the 12th-ranked Coric 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 after two hours and 19 minutes.

Coric got to a flying start with a 4-0 lead in the opening set before sealing his win. The second set ran in a more fierce manner, but Chardy failed to capitalize his chances and saw Coric break for a 6-5 advantage.

Despite receiving a treatment during the third set, Coric didn't seem hampered by that to move the visitors ahead.

World No. 7 Cilic also withstood little challenge from Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who had returned to tennis action in September due to injury, to win 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.

Cilic broke for a 4-2 lead into the duel, and a forehand error cost his opponent the first set. After digging deeper while conceding the second set, Tsonga called for a medical timeout in the third and never appeared to make his comeback later on.

According to Noah, Tsonga was troubled by a groin injury.

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