ZADAR, Croatia — Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig put Croatia 2-1 ahead in the Davis Cup semifinal against France by upsetting top-ranked doubles pair Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert 7-6 (6), 5-7, 7-6 (6), 6-3 on Saturday.
Cilic, who won his singles on Friday, replaced Marin Draganja and it proved to be an inspired choice.
“With Ivan and our captain (Zeljko Krajan) we prepared our tactics well,” Cilic said.
Herbert, the more inexperienced of France’s doubles pairing, sent his volley into the net to hand Croatia an unexpected victory at the Kresimir Cosic Hall in Zadar.
Croatia’s performance stunned France’s captain Yannick Noah.
“I didn’t expect to see Dodig playing at this level,” Noah said. “Croatia is in a good position because Marin is playing good tennis. They have been better than us over the first two days (and) we haven’t found the keys (to victory) yet.”
Richard Gasquet now must beat Cilic in the first of Sunday’s reverse singles to keep France alive.
“We will have to be ready for a battle tomorrow,” Noah said. “With the way he plays Gasquet can find angles and take Cilic out of his comfort zone. But to do so he must play at a very high level.”
Gasquet leads Cilic, the 2014 U.S. Open champion, 2-1 in their career head-to-heads and that makes Cilic wary.
“It’s always difficult against him,” Cilic said. “But in my two defeats I remember having a lot of break-point chances.”
Pouille is then scheduled to face Borna Coric in what could be Sunday’s deciding rubber.
Coric won their only previous meeting, which was in straight sets at Indian Wells in March.
The winner plays Britain or Argentina in the final in November.