Croatia's Davis Cup tennis heroes welcomed home

Marin Cilic (AP)
Marin Cilic (AP)

Zagreb - Thousands of Croatians gathered in Zagreb's main square on Monday to embrace their returning Davis Cup team, who routed hosts France in the final to clinch the trophy for the second time.

"Croatia, Croatia!" chanted both the crowd and the players, led by world number seven Marin Cilic, who were standing on an improvised stage in Ban Jelacic square.

Behind them a giant screen replayed their matches from the Davis Cup final in Lille, France.

"We are delighted to become world champions and bring this trophy to Croatia," Cilic told the crowd, many of whom were wrapped in Croatia's red-and-white chequered flags.

The victory has been celebrated as a sweet revenge for Croatia's loss to France in the World Cup final in July.

It is the second time the Balkan nation of 4.2 million has won the Davis Cup, the first time being in 2005.

Cilic, 30, secured the 3-1 victory by beating Lucas Pouille on Sunday and giving his country an unassailable lead.

On Monday the Croatian press crowned it a "miraculous year" for the country's athletes.

"Happy and proud again!" read the headline on the daily Vecernji List.

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, who attended the event in Lille, is expected to decorate the players with medals later Monday.

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