Krajan axed as Croatia Davis Cup coach

Zeljko Krajan

ZAGREB — Zeljko Krajan was axed Saturday as Croatia Davis Cup team coach just nine days before the defending champions play the inaugural match in the finals, the Croatian tennis federation (HTS) said.

"After a joint meeting of senior HTS officials and players ... it was concluded that the squad will not attend the Davis Cup finals in Madrid under the leadership of coach Krajan," HTS head Nikolina Babic said in a statement.

The federation has "agreed with him (Krajan) to terminate cooperation," she said without elaborating on the reasons for the move.

Krajan, a 40-year-old former professional player, took over as the country's Davis Cup coach in 2012.

Croatia, who beat previous winners France in last year's final, face Russia in Madrid on November 18.

They will be also without former US Open winner Marin Cilic, who announced his withdrawal because of a knee injury on Thursday.

Cilic, world number 39, said that due his recurring knee injury he would have to undergo a "few minor interventions".

It would "keep me off the tennis court for a longer period and unfortunately means I will not be able to compete at the Davis Cup this month," he wrote on Facebook.

The 31-year-old was supposed to play in a squad of five Croatian players which includes Borna Coric, Mate Pavic, Ivan Dodig and Nikola Mektic.

Local media reported he would be replaced by veteran Ivo Karlovic, 40.

HTS and the players are to hold a press conference on Monday.

Davis Cup's new 18-team format has replaced the former World Group.

The nations have been split into six three-team groups, with the winners and two best runners-up advancing to the quarter-finals.

Russia and Croatia have been drawn alongside Spain in Group B. — AFP