The 94th Davis Cup in 2005 got off to a sensational start for Croatia. The away win against the United States, who were the favourites in this World Group matchup, shocked the sporting world, while the chequered tennis poetry continued in the two home matchups in Split, the jewel of the Mediterranean. Despite the identical start to both matchups, with Romania and Russia taking the lead, the Croatian national team swiftly crushed any dreams of winning the away teams might have had with the aid of a delirious crowd at the cult Gripe Sports Hall.
After Ivan Ljubičić defeated Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko in three straight sets in the volcanic atmosphere of Split, Croatia progressed to the final of the Davis Cup for the first time in its history. The path to the tennis Mount Olympus led through Slovakia. During the three matchdays in Bratislava, the national team comprising Mario Ančić, Ivan Ljubičić, Goran Ivanišević, Ivo Karlović and team captain Nikola Pilić were experiencing a genuine sports thriller.
Croatia took a 1:0 lead, with Slovakia tying at 1:1, after which Croatia reclaimed the lead at 2:1, with the Slovaks equalising yet again at 2:2. There was to be a fifth match in this dramatic tennis clash. In the decisive match against Michal Mertiňák, Mario Ančić remained sturdy as the walls of Dubrovnik and the celebration could commence. The Croats got their hands on the famous Davis Cup trophy, dubbed the “salad bowl”, for the first time ever.