Men's Match of the Decade No. 8: Del Potro d. Cilic, 2016 Davis Cup

Men's Match of the Decade No. 8: Del Potro d. Cilic, 2016 Davis Cup

By the time the Argentine was basking—arms raised, eyes closed—in his crowd’s love three sets later, his final win, 6–7 (4), 2–6, 7–5, 6–4, 6–3, felt like destiny.

Big Three. Big ballers. Big scores. The 2010s were defined by giant-sized contents on the men's side, which we'll review over the next two weeks.

See the entire men's and women's lists here, and relive each match with our video retrospectives.


If Davis Cup—the beloved, best-of-five version—had to have a swan song, the fourth rubber of the 2016 final lived up to that Herculean task.

This match had everything fans have loved about the Cup since it began in 1900. At four hours and 53 minutes, the match was long and involved, a slowly-developing saga filled with twists and turns, triumphs and tragedies. It was played before a Zagreb crowd that alternated between deafening chants for the home team, Croatia, and for the away team, Argentina, a nation desperate to win its first Davis Cup. It gave, as so many Cup classics have, two players who rarely reach major finals a chance to play for tennis history. For the first two sets, Cilic rose to the occasion; over the last three, it was Del Potro’s turn.


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When Cilic reached deuce on Del Potro’s serve at 4-4 in the third set, it looked like the Cup was Croatia’s. Then, what appeared to be a lucky break for Cilic turned into a match-changing disaster for him: The chair umpire assessed Del Potro a time violation, and took his first serve away; incensed, Delpo won the point with a massive second serve. Just like that, the momentum turned in Delpo’s favor, and never turned back.

By the time he was basking—arms raised, eyes closed—in his crowd’s love three sets later, Delpo's win felt like destiny. Del Potro was one of the decade’s most popular players, and his 2016 comeback was the season’s feel-good story. It seemed only fitting that he would end it by breaking Argentina’s Cup curse.