Croatia and Argentina ended day one of the Davis Cup final all-square at 1-1 after wins for Marin Cilic and Juan Martin Del Potro.
Cilic outlasted Federico Delbonis in five sets to win the opener in Zagreb, but Del Potro hit back for Argentina to beat Ivo Karlovic in four and level the scores ahead of Saturday’s doubles rubber.
World No 6 Cilic was given the task of getting the hosts off to a fast start and appeared on course to deliver easily as he cruised into a two-set lead.
But the 41st-ranked Delbonis, roared on by Diego Maradona among others, saved three break points in the seventh game of the next and fought his way back to level with some spectacular tennis.
The Argentine looked the likelier winner at 2-2, but Cilic regrouped and came through the decider with the help of two breaks for a 6-3 7-5 3-6 1-6 6-2 win.
Del Potro had trouble with Karlovic in the day’s second rubber as the big-serving Croat got the better of a gruelling second-set tie-break to level the match at 1-1.
Two tightly-contested sets followed, Del Potro edging both as his more consistent serving helped secure a 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 7-5 success.
Karlovic’s 35 aces were offset by 12 double faults, while Del Potro won 68 of 76 points on his first serve.
Saturday’s doubles match seed Ivan Dodig and Franko Skugor face Argentinian pair Leonardo Mayer and Guido Pella, with the four singles competitors switching opponents on Sunday.
Argentina are yet to win a Davis Cup, while Croatia’s sole victory came in 2005.