US Open 2014 – Marin Cilic: “I was absolutely playing the best tennis of my life” - UBITENNIS
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US Open 2014 – Marin Cilic: “I was absolutely playing the best tennis of my life”

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TENNIS US OPEN – 6th of September 2014. M. Cilic d. R. Federer 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. An interview with Marin Cilic

 

Q. It must feel pretty special to play the kind of match you dream about playing in a tournament you dream about playing it in and doing it, eh?

MARIN CILIC: Yeah, absolutely. Just for the performance today from, I mean, first point to the last I was absolutely playing the best tennis of my life. Considering the huge occasion I was playing in, I mean, for the second time in a semifinals of a Grand Slam, it just can’t be more special. Considering also that, you know, even I was a set up and break up, you know, the crowd was rooting for Roger to come back. You know, it wasn’t easy to deal with that, but I felt that my serve helped me a lot today, you know, to get some free points to breathe a little bit easier. It was, I mean, working perfectly.

Q. What was the key to the match today?

MARIN CILIC: Well, I felt that very similar to the Berdych match I adjusted pretty well to the wind and to the conditions we were playing in. It was a different game from different ends. With one end it was wind in the back, so it was a bit easier to play from that side. Most of my breaks I made from that end. You know, as soon as I felt in the beginning of the match that I’m serving well, that I’m pretty relaxed, that I could have a chance. It was important for me to keep my focus, even though I was two sets to love up. I knew that Roger, you know, can turn it around and the momentum can shift. So I was, you know, very focused. I think mental part of the game from my own side was on a good spot.

Q. What do you take out of the match in Canada that you brought in today? What did Goran tell you about this match to get ready?

MARIN CILIC: Well, over there in Canada, confidence-wise and belief-wise showed me that, you know, if I play well I can have a chance. Over there Roger was causing me much more trouble on his serve and I wasn’t getting as many returns in the court like today. I felt today the return was extremely good, especially on the second serve and that, you know, opened up many more opportunities for me. I felt that, I mean, maybe fraction better I served today than in Toronto, but over there I think I played also pretty consistent match. I think by returning bit better opened a few more chances for me.

Q. What did Goran say going into it?

MARIN CILIC: Well, we just spoke a little bit. Nothing too specific.

Q. Did he relax you?

MARIN CILIC: Yeah, definitely. I knew that I had to be aggressive. I can’t just wait for Roger to miss, because that’s not gonna happen over best of five-sets match. Just different, you know, small details that I used well today.

Q. You had three straight aces in that final game, too. Was your heart starting to race as you realized you had put Federer away in straight sets?

MARIN CILIC: Well, it sort of was just pumping a bit more when I missed the last one. On the first three I didn’t feel anything. (Smiling.) Even when I was closing out the second set I served also great game, and I was very, very relaxed, yeah.

Q. You’re a deep-thinking guy. What do you think this means to see you and Kei in the final? No big four in the final.

MARIN CILIC: Well, it’s a bit of a changeup year considering all the past years that these top four guys were making to the final. Wawrinka opened the doors for us from the “second” line, and I think most of the guys have now bigger belief that they can do it on the Grand Slams. Just over here as well, Kei beat Wawrinka, beat Novak, and Milos, so played amazing, amazing tournament. I think it’s gonna be extremely interesting for the next several, for sure, Grand Slams.

Q. Goran, he said that it’s not what he tells you to believe, that you would listen to him. He said you have to believe in yourself that you can win. Is it difficult for you to have this belief?

MARIN CILIC: I mean, it’s coming through longer period of time. I mean, you can’t sort of believe in yourself if you’re not performing well on the court and if you’re not performing well on the big occasions against big players. You know, few last months I felt I played really well. I was close in some matches, and just that I have gave me more belief and motivation. When I’m playing now these bigger matches I feel like if I’m going to play well I have a good chance. So I think that’s different mindset than what I used to have, because before I felt that I should, you know, play more than what I’m able to, and then, you know, the game breaks. So you can’t sort of play more than 100% of your performance.

Q. He said he was very proud of you, also.

MARIN CILIC: Yeah, he told me. (Smiling.)

Q. You seem also physically stronger this year in addition to your mental strength in a lot of recent performances, and I wonder if you could talk about the interrelatedness of the strength.

MARIN CILIC: Yeah, absolutely. I feel in general I’m hitting the serve bigger, the shots are more compact, and I’m moving, I would say, very comfortably on the court. I’m able to run down some balls that I wasn’t before. And even, you know, when I’m playing these long, long matches like the one with Simon, I’m able to recover quicker. So I feel that I’m — I worked physically a lot. And also with Goran the intensity on the tennis court is pretty high. So I feel, you know, everything with that adds up to, you know, being better in all aspects.

Q. What do you remember about where you were last year during this tournament? How much were you watching? And how much does all of that make being here in the final only 12 months later more surprising or special?

MARIN CILIC: Well, I mean, I was at home and was working, preparing as much as I could and was using every day to train. Well, to be in this position I was working for all my life. You are sort of — when you are young on the tour you always feel, you know, you have enough time. You have a lot of Grand Slams. You’re gonna do well. But, I mean, when the time starts to pass by you are more anxious if it’s gonna happen or it’s not gonna happen. You know, the best guys are not going away and sort of feel if it’s gonna happen ever. Just to be in this situation, I mean, I can say this moment is extremely huge achievement. Just by watching all the other players make it this far the Grand Slams, I mean, for most of them, for the guys that are top feels normal, but for some guys that are making for the first time it’s, I mean, achievement of the career.

Q. Roger said that you were covering the court better than ever before. Are you seeing it and reading it better than ever before? Did that ball look a little bigger today than some other days?

MARIN CILIC: Yeah, I mean, I felt that today I was hitting the ball extremely clean. I mean, I have some days where I am shanking a lot of balls, but today it was very pure from my end of the court. It was just, you know — like today when I’m playing aggressively, sort of for the guys it’s difficult to open up the court. I’m trying to play a little faster and, you know, in different situations if the guy’s doing that it’s difficult to, you know, find some angles or open up the court. So I feel with that I was covering the court even better.

Q. Did you have equal confidence in every ball that you were serving, forehand, backhand?

MARIN CILIC: Yes, for sure. It was different from one end to the other, and through the wind, of course, I was swinging a little bit harder. I mean, through the wind. With the wind I was placing the ball a bit better. I felt that tactical-wise from my own shots was pretty well made.

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Nadal survives three-set marathon with Shapovalov in Rome

Rafael Nadal saved match points to edge out Denis Shapovalov in Rome.

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Rafael Nadal (@atptour - Twitter)

The King of Clay needed three sets and over three hours to claim the win and avoid an upset.

 

Rafael Nadal needed three hours and 27 minutes to beat the Canadian Denis Shapovalov 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 at the Italian Open in Rome hitting 29 winners while his counterpart hit 46 unforced errors in the loss.

To everyone’s surprise it was the world number 14 who came out with the faster start earning two breakpoints in the first service game of the match with a stunning forehand winner.

He would break to take an early 1-0 lead and continued to have momentum earning another break and the Spaniard found himself staring at 3-0 defecit.

At 4-1 the world number three would get one of the breaks back but it wasn’t enough as the Toronto native would break one more time at 5-3 on his fourth breakpoint of the game to take the first set.

Once again we saw some really strong play from the Canadian in the beginning of the second set we saw history repeat itself when the world number 14 held serve and get the early break this time with his powerful forehand.

Nadal was fighting to stay in the set and the match and managed to earn a breakpoint but it was quickly saved with a big ace from Shapovalov. The very next game the Canadian had a chance to get another break but this time the Spaniard would deny him the opportunity.

After the world number three held serve he went on the attack looking to go back on serve and after three chances would get the break back. He would end up winning five games in a row and would take the second set to send it to a decider.

The third set remained on serve until 2-1 when the Canadian had a chance to break and he would take to jump out to a 3-1 lead. The break didn’t hold as Nadal came storming back the very next game breaking the world number 14 to love and equaling the set at 3-3.

The set and the match would ultimately be decided by a tiebreaker and in that breaker is when the Spaniard would take over winning it 7-3 to book his spot in the quarterfinals.

He will next face either Alexander Zverev or Kei Nishikori on Friday for a spot in the semifinals.

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Novak Djokovic Moving Into A ‘Good Trajectory’ After Reaching Rome Quarter-Finals

Novak Djokovic admitted that he is on a good trajectory after reaching the last eight in Rome.

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Novak Djokovic has said that he is on a ‘good trajectory’ after moving into the Rome Quarter-Finals.

 

The world number one moved into the last eight in the Italian capital with a comfortable 6-2 6-1 victory over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Despite being broken in the first game, Djokovic rallied back to break on five occasions as he cruised past the Erratic Spaniard.

After 1 hour and 11 minutes, Djokovic’s overall game was too much for Davidovich Fokina as the Serb progressed to his 15th quarter-final in Rome.

After the match in his on-court interview the top seed admitted he is on a good trajectory as he builds momentum towards Roland Garros, “I thought I played well,” Djokovic told the ATP website.

“He started well and broke my serve in the first game. I made some errors, but I managed to break back right away and establish the control and consistency on the court. I think from the back of the court I was just a bit more solid than him.

“He made some unforced errors and double faults in key moments, which obviously helped me get that necessary break forward. I thought I played better, at least 20 or 30 per cent better, than I did against Fritz a few days ago. I am on a good trajectory and hopefully tomorrow will be even better.”

The real test for Djokovic will come tomorrow when he faces top 10 opposition in the last eight.

It will either be Monte-Carlo champion Stefanos Tsitsipas or Madrid finalist and home favourite Matteo Berrettini next up for the world number one.

Djokovic was well aware of the form either of his possible opponents are in heading into tomorrow’s showdown, “My next match will be against a Top 10 player, so it is going to be a battle,” Djokovic explained.

“Both of these guys are in great form. Tsitsipas won Monte-Carlo and Berrettini is just coming off the final in Madrid. I am obviously going to do my best to win that match, whoever I play against.”

In the other result in Rome today, Reilly Opelka reached the quarter-finals with a 7-6(6) 6-4 win over Aslan Karatsev.

The American hit 18 aces as he will now face Felix Auger-Aliassime or Federico Delbonis on Friday.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas sets up blockbuster third round match against Matteo Berrettini in Rome

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Stefanos Tsitsipas edged past Marin Cilic 7-5 6-2 to advance to third round at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. 

 

Tsitsipas has improved his win-loss record to 28-7 this season, equalling Andrey Rublev for most match wins after Rublev beat Jan-Lennard Struff 6-7 (7-9) 6-1 6-4 earlier today. 

Tsitsipas had to save two break points in the ninth game to hold serve after four deuces. The 2021 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters winner earned his crucial break in the 12th game to win a hard-fought first set 7-5. 

Tsitsipas was in control of the match and cruised to a 6-2 win in the second set with two breaks in the second and eighth games. 

“Sometimes I need to adjust my game and Marin is someone I respect a lot. I knew he was going to come out here and play his best tennis. He made move a lot. It was quite tricky to adjust to that at the beginning, but towards the very end of the first set I stayed calm and stayed calm and resilient. I had to play deep on the returns and find solutions from the baseline rallies. That worked well for me from 6-5”, said Tsitsipas. 

Tsitsipas set up a blockbuster third round match against last week’s Madrid Mutua Open finalist Matteo Berrettini, who beat John Millman 6-4 6-2 in front of fans, who will return on Thursday. Tsitsipas enjoyed the atmosphere on the Pietrangeli Stadium. 

“The Pietrangeli Stadium is very beautiful. It’s one of the best courts on tour. I feel like the Pietrangeli here is great. We are surrounded by trees in the city and it’s very quiet which is very important for tennis. Honestly, I can’t wait for the fans to come and fill in the stadium”, said Tsitsipas. 

Berrettini missed three consecutive break points in the third game of the opening set and earned his first break in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead. The Rome-native star served out the first set at 15. Berrettini earned two consecutive breaks to race out to 4-0 lead. Millman saved a break point to hold serve in the fifth game, but Berrettini never looked back in his next two service games to claim the second set 6-2. 

Berrettini has improved with his each appearance in the Rome tournament, reaching the second round in 2018, the third round in 2019 and the quarter final in 2020. 

Tsitsipas beat Berrettini in their only head-to-head match at the 2019 Australian Open. 

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