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Croatia takes 2-1 lead over Argentina in Davis Cup final

Croatia takes 2-1 lead over Argentina in Davis Cup final
Croatia's Ivan Dodig, left, and Marin Cilic celebrate their doubles victory over Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro and Leonardo Mayer during the Davis Cup final on Saturday. (Antonio Bat / EPA)

Argentina's longtime hopes of clinching its first Davis Cup title took a blow after a doubles loss against Croatia on Saturday.

Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig swept past Juan Martin del Potro and Leonardo Mayer, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4), 6-3, to give Croatia a 2-1 lead over Argentina in the Davis Cup final.

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Cilic can secure the decisive point for Croatia against Del Potro in the first reverse singles on Sunday. If Del Potro wins, Croatia's Ivo Karlovic and Argentina's Federico Delbonis will decide the final.

"We will push to the end," Dodig, the hero of the doubles victory, said. "Nothing will stop us now."

Argentina is the only nation in the Davis Cup's 116-year history to have reached four finals without winning the title. Croatia is targeting its second title after beating Slovakia in the final in 2005.

On Saturday, the Croats dominated tiebreakers in the first two sets with Dodig making some spectacular shots and Cilic holding his serve at key points.

The crucial break came in the 6th game of the third set on Mayer's serve when the Argentine netted a seemingly routine forehand after making a string of mistakes in previous exchanges. The Croatian duo converted the second of three opportunities.

Cilic closed out the match with a big first serve that Mayer could only send long. The Croats threw their arms in the air and got big hugs from the bench.

In the opening singles on Friday, Cilic defeated Federico Delbonis and Del Potro beat Ivo Karlovic.

Argentina soccer great Diego Maradona led thousands of visiting fans with chants and frantically waved a scarf with the Argentinian flag from his executive booth on the stands at Arena Zagreb. He was wearing a black band on his arm to mourn the death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro. "He was like my second father," Maradona told reporters.

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