POREC, Croatia – The United States was ousted from the Davis Cup, and left to wonder how it might have gone had Andy Roddick been around to pelt opponents with his laser serve.
James Blake was unable to keep the Americans alive in the quarterfinals Sunday, losing to Marin Cilic of Croatia 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 in the opening match of reverse singles.
Cilic’s victory on indoor clay put Croatia ahead 3-1 in the best-of-five format, sending the country to its first semifinal since winning the Davis Cup in 2005. The final score was 3-2 after American doubles specialist Bob Bryan beat Roko Karanusic 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (4) in the concluding match.
Roddick was unavailable because of a hip injury after losing a five-set final to Roger Federer at Wimbledon. That left Blake as the Americans’ No. 1 singles player.
“It shows how important Andy is for the team,” Blake said. “Being on the No. 2 spot is less pressure than playing on the No. 1 spot.”
U.S. captain Patrick McEnroe acknowledged that without Roddick the Americans faced a “better team.”
“Cilic had a great match. I’m very impressed by his maturity,” McEnroe said. “His serve was definitely better than Blake’s today.”
The Americans, the 32-time champions, have lost all three meetings against Croatia in the Davis Cup, including defeats in 2003 and 2005. The U.S. won the competition two years ago and was bidding to reach the semifinals for the fourth straight year.
“I played well, trying to attack, but I missed too many opportunities,” Blake said. “That’s what happens when you play someone like Cilic.”
Croatia will play the Czech Republic at home in September. The Czechs beat Argentina 3-2 on Sunday.
In other quarterfinals, Spain advanced 3-2 at home against Germany and will meet Israel in the semifinals. Israel clinched its series against Russia on Saturday and completed a 4-1 victory Sunday.