LILLE, France - Borna Coric had no problem adjusting to clay on Friday, giving Croatia the first point in the Davis Cup final against France with a 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 win over Jeremy Chardy.
The 12th-ranked Coric, who practiced on hard courts last week at the ATP Finals in London as a reserve, delivered a flawless display on the slow surface picked by the French hosts.
Marin Cilic, Croatia's top player, will next face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the second singles match at Pierre Mauroy Stadium.
Chardy, who was picked by France captain Yannick Noah ahead of Lucas Pouille, was playing in his first Davis Cup final. He was overwhelmed by Coric's deep groundstrokes in the first set, dropping 14 consecutive points at one point to trail 4-0.
The Frenchman changed his strategy in the second set and tried to force Coric into longer rallies but failed to convert his rare chances. Despite the vociferous support of a partisan French crowd which often showed no respect for Coric by applauding his first service errors, the Croat fended off two break points with big serves in the fourth game.
He broke for a 6-5 lead after hitting a superb lob that Chardy could not return, followed by a pin-point forehand return that pushed the Frenchman to commit a mistake.
Coric then held at love and built on the momentum with another break in the third game of the next set. After getting his legs massaged by Croatia captain Zeljko Krajan, he briefly left the court after the seventh game for treatment but did not look hampered once he returned.
Croatia is trying to win its second Davis Cup title in its third final, while defending champion France is bidding for an 11th title.