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.
Andy Murray Surging In Confidence After Reaching First ATP Quarter-Final Since 2019
The 34-year-old believes he is getting better with every match played on the Tour as he eyes a spot in the final later this week.
Former world No.1 Andy Murray says he is starting to gain more belief in his game after reaching the quarter-finals of the Moselle Open on Wednesday.
The three-time Grand Slam champion rallied to a 6-3, 6-3, win over Canada’s Vasek Pospisil in the French city. Murray dropped serve only once at the start of the second set but broke his opponent four times en route to the victory. It is the first time he has registered back-to-back wins on the ATP Tour since Wimbledon and it is the first time he has reached a quarter-final since winning the 2019 Antwerp Open.
Murray showed glimmers of his best tennis recently at the US Open where he took Stefanos Tsitsipas to five sets in the first round before losing. However, in his following tournament on the Challenger circuit he lost in the second round to world No.154 Roman Safiullin. Despite the mixed performances, the Brit says his fitness continues to improve and he believes he is heading in the right direction.
“For me, this period of the last few years has been the most I have played really,” Murray said following his win over Pospisil.
“My body feels good and I am starting to gain just a little bit of confidence with each match, starting to see the points and how I want to play them, which is great.
“There have been times in the past year where I have been a little bit confused and not seeing how the points are developing which was always a strong part of my game.
“It made me feel quite uncomfortable on court when I was feeling that way, so I am starting to get that back and the results are coming, my tennis is getting better.”
The 34-year-old, who now plays on the Tour with a metal hip after undergoing two operations, is targeting a return back into the world’s top 100 for the first time since 2018. He came agonisingly close in July when he reached 102. At present, he is currently ranked 113 but will climb at least four places following his run in Metz this week.
In the next round Murray will play either top seed Hubert Hurkacz or former top 10 player Lucas Pouille. Both players are likely to be a stern challenge for the three-time Grand Slam champion who is hoping to reach the final for the first time since 2007.
“I would love to get another opportunity to play here in the final, but there is a lot of tennis to be played before then potentially against the number one seed in the next round,” he reflected.
“It is not going to be easy if I want to reach the final, but I am playing well and have an opportunity.”
Murray has won 42 ATP titles and has earned more than $62M in prize money so far in his career.
Diego Schwartzman Receives Threats On Social Media Following Shock Davis Cup Defeat
The world No.15 is the latest player to speak out about recieving abusive messages on social media.
The weekend has been an emotional rollercoaster for Diego Schwartzman, who suffered ‘one of the worst’ losses of his career before helping secure victory for his country in their Davis Cup tie against Belarus.
On Saturday the world No.15 was stunned by unranked 18-year-old Daniil Ostapenkov who is yet to play a professional match on the pro Tour. Ostapenkov is currently ranked 63 in the world on the junior circuit. The comprehensive victory shocked the Argentinian team who was hosting the tie at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club.
Despite the shock upset, Schwartman managed to redeem himself the following day when he defeated Alexander Zgirovsky 6-1, 6-2. That victory handed his country an unassailable 3-1 lead in their tie and secured their place in the 2022 Davis Cup qualifiers which will take place next March.
“Not only playing Davis, but in Buenos Aires, with a lot of people you don’t see, it’s not easy. My level can be and has to be much better. After the game on Saturday I had a difficult day in the spirit of being able to get up and enjoy with the group,” La Nacion quoted Schwartzman as saying.
“The most normal thing was that we won the series. It’s what everyone expected. But when you have a very difficult day at work like it was on Saturday and then you win, it excites you because you have some internal things withheld.”
Between those two matches, Schwartzman revealed that he was trolled on social media by some people unhappy about his loss in the tie. The 2020 French Open semi-finalist said he received criticism and even threats from some asking him to leave his home country. Something he admits affected him at times.
“It was one of the worst days of my career,” Schwartzman commented on his loss to Zgirovsky. “I lost to an unranked, inexperienced player. All that already affects (me) a lot. Although 80 or 90 percent of the people are always encouraging (me), there was a minority who criticized me with bad intentions.’
“I received threats, insults and requests not to return to Argentina. More or less, it affects (me)”.
Schwartzman is not the first player to speak out about online abuse. During the US Open Shelby Rogers said she was expecting to receive ‘death threats’ following her loss to Emma Raducanu who went on to win the title. Sloane Stephens has also previously spoken out about being the victim of racism online.
The 29-year-old says he has previously tried to interact with those who have trolled him on social media to find out why they are doing so.
“Sometimes I start to answer some messages and I ask those people if they realize what they are sending,” Schwartzman said during his press conference. “The vast majority apologize and say they had not realized it. But at the moment it hurts. That very ill-intentioned criticism is the only bad thing about social networks.”
Schwartzman has won four ATP titles and earned more than $10M in prize money so far in his career.
Spanish Veteran Feliciano Lopez Addresses Future On The Tour
23 years after he played his first main draw match on the ATP Tour, Lopez says his longevity in the sport has been achieved with the help of of some luck.
Feliciano Lopez has dismissed any speculation that he could retire in the coming weeks after saying he is taking life on the Tour in his stride.
The 39-year-old Spaniard is currently the second oldest player in the world’s top 200 after Roger Federer, who is a year older than him. Lopez made his ATP Tour debut at the 1998 Barcelona Open which was before the birth of Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz. In June he became the 10th active player to record his 500th win on the Tour.
Currently ranked 111th in the world, some are starting to wonder how much longer Lopez will continue playing. So far this season he has achieved a win-loss record of 9-19 with his best performance being a run to the quarter-finals of the Mallorca Open which was held on the grass. It was in Mallorca where he defeated Karen Khachanov who is the only top 30 player he has beaten so far in 2021.
“I play year-by-year, the last 6-7 years have been like this, a tennis player at that age cannot think about extending his career. After turning 30 I have been lucky, I have obtained the best results of my career,” Lopez told reporters on Friday.
“It is not very common for players my age, at (almost) 40 years to continue playing in the best tournaments.” He added.
Throughout his career, Lopez has impressively played in a record 78 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments dating back to the 2002 French Open. During that period he has reached the quarter-finals of a major tournament on four occasions.
“I don’t play to break records, what makes me most excited is to continue playing Grand Slams. For me, maintaining that record (78 consecutive Grand Slams played) is very nice, but more to follow. Being competitive,” he commented on the milestone.
“It is difficult for someone to overcome it because it is 20 years in a row without missing a great one. I have had continuity and enormous luck. Those of my generation are practically all retired.”
Away from the court, the former world No.12 is the current tournament director of the Madrid Open. Making him one of a few players historically to both be playing on the Tour and managing a tournament at the same time. Recently it was confirmed that Madrid will continue hosting it’s combined event until at least 2030 following a renewed agreement between the city council and the Madrid trophy promotion.
Lopez has won a total of seven ATP titles so far in his career and has earned more than $18M in prize money.
Hubert Hurkacz and Pablo Carreno Busta reach the final at the Moselle Open in Metz
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