Croatia defeated Sweden 2-1 on the third day of action in the Group Stage of the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals at the Unipol Arena in Bologna.
Sweden changed its team nominations for the doubles – Mikael Ymer, playing his first Davis Cup doubles match, replaced Andre Gorasson. The Scandinavians were putting their fate in the hands of the Ymer brothers once again. On the other side of the net, they faced the fourth best doubles pair in the world: Mate Pavic and Nikola Mektic.
The match laid out two opposing styles. The Croatians were constantly looking for the initiative, never far from the net, while the Swedes doggedly defended every point from the baseline. This clash of philosophies was initially successful for the Swedes, who took an early 4-2 lead.
But from that point on the Croatians showed why they are among the best doubles pairs in the world and reversed the flow of the set with an exhibition of coordination and deadly volleys at the net, sealing the first set 7-5.
In the second, Mektic and Pavic quickly took the lead by breaking the Swede's serve for 2-1. That advantage proved decisive and the Croatians closed the match 7-5, 6-3.
In the second match of the day, the No.1 players from each team – Borna Coric for Croatia and Mikael Ymer for Sweden – met for the first time in their careers.
A break of serve in the first game of the match gave Coric the confidence he needed after Wednesday's painful defeat against Matteo Berrettini. Although there were a couple more breaks of serve, one for each side, that initial advantage allowed the Croatian to take the first set with ease.
But the younger of the Ymer brothers managed to find his best tennis in the second set. The Swede was suddenly quicker, more precise and consistent, the same qualities that he had shown against Argentina on Tuesday. He got a break for an early 3-0 lead and ended up taking the set 6-3.
The beginning of the decisive third set saw a marked improvement in Coric's game. The Croatian began to win his serve with ease and earned an early break. This time it was his turn for a 3-0 lead. With his serve working again, Ymer's chances started to wane.
In the end, after what seemed a never-ending fifth game that included discussions with the chair umpire and 16 points, Coric won his serve for 4-1 and held on to his advantage, sealing victory 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
In the first match, the older of the Ymer brothers, Elias, continued his good form of the first day against Argentina and completed an almost flawless performance in the first set against Borna Gojo, never letting the Croatian find his rhythm.
In the second, Gojo raised his game and broke Ymer for a 4-2 lead. But this resurgence did not last. Ymer was unwilling to let the match slip away and started to play more aggressively, connecting deeper forehands and choosing the right moments to finish off points at the net.
The final tiebreak was taken easily by Ymer 7-2.