Croatia storm to World Team title
Saturday, May 27, 2006; Posted: 10:01 a.m. EDT (14:01 GMT)
Stand-in Karlovic's win in the first singles proved vital for Croatia.
DUSSELDORF, Germany -- Croatia dominated the hosts Germany 2-0 to win the 1.85 million euro (2.36 million dollar) ATP World Team Championship for the first time in their history on Saturday in Dusseldorf.
Croatia added the team trophy to the Davis Cup they won last year after crushing holders Germany in a one-sided final.
Singles victory for the giant Ivo Karlovic and tournament star Ivan Ljubicic sealed the victory.
Karlovic, coming in for the injured Mario Ancic, defeated Alexander Waske 7-6 6-4 in the opening singles rubber.
Nicolas Kiefer then had the task of keeping his country in the match but came up well short against Ljubicic.
The 26-year-old Croat, ranked fourth in the world, hardly broke a sweat winning 6-4 6-4 to clinch the crown. The win meant the ensuing doubles match was irrelevant.
The win will certainly boost Ljubicic ahead of his French Open bid at Roland Garros, which begins on Monday.
Croatia clinch World Team title
Karlovic won the opening singles rubber in straight sets
Croatia beat defending champions and hosts Germany 2-0 to seal the ATP World Team Championship for the first time in Duesseldorf on Saturday. Ivo Karlovic, deputising for the injured Mario Ancic, defeated Alexander Waske 7-6 6-4 in the first singles. And Ivan Ljubicic eased past Germany's Nicolas Kiefer 6-4 6-4 in the second rubber to ensure the win.
It was Croatia's first appearance in the final since 1985 when they reached that stage for the first time.
Waske, who was also a last-minute replacement for Michael Kohlschreiber, was always in contention but was unable to gain the upper hand against Karlovic. Waske led 3-0 after breaking in the second game of the second set before Karlovic broke back in the fifth game. A superb backhand return that landed just inside the line earned him a second and decisive break for 4-3. Kiefer looked a little flat against Ljubicic, who played a steady match but rarely had to lift himself above the ordinary.
A break for 2-1 in each set was enough to secure victory. Kiefer netted a backhand at 1-1 in the first set, and Ljubicic struck a cross-court winner on his fourth break point at 1-1 in the second. Kiefer earned just one break point in the match, and it came at a crucial stage with Ljubicic leading 4-3 in the second set. Ljubicic saved that with a forehand volley and went on to serve out the match.