Marin Cilic Plots Grand Slam Glory Against The Big Four In 2018
LONDON: Satisfied and relieved were the best words to describe Marin Cilic as he conducted his final post-match press conference of 2017 at the ATP Tour Finals.
Relishing in a successful season, his campaign ended with a three-set loss to Roger Federer. His third consecutive defeat of the week. Cilic didn’t make it easy for the world No.2, leading the match by a set and having a chance to break at the start of the second. Still, it was not enough to deny his Swiss rival as Federer battled back to clinch his 55th win in the tournament’s history.
“I think today was a solid match. That’s what I wanted to go out to play, try to play another good match.” Cilic said during his press conference. “Obviously it’s a little bit more difficult mentally knowing that I had two losses.”
“It was a very solid match from me. I played those first two sets at a really good level. Even had a breakpoint there early in the second. I think overall with my game I was quite satisfied.”
The positive outlook from the 29-year-old is not surprising. 2017 has seen him start and finish inside the top 10 for the first time in his career. His milestones include rising to a ranking high of fourth in October. Overall, he has managed to win 44 out of 66 matches played on the tour.
“I would say that clay court season was extremely successful for me.” Reflected Cilic, who won Istanbul Open in May. “I had the best clay court season ever. Played quite consistently there. I think that helped me to play well on the grass courts.”
“With my form during the grass court season, I was really, really satisfied.”
Unlike some other players on the tour, the Croat doesn’t put his rise down to ability. For him consistency was the key. Playing in a total of 20 ATP tournaments this year, he managed to reach the quarter-finals or better in 12 of those. Including a run to his second grand slam final at the Wimbledon championships.
Grand Slam contender in 2018?
Cilic’s biggest achievement occurred three years ago when he stunned the tour by winning the US Open. Since then, he has been dubbed as a one-hit wonder in the majors. Despite nearing the age of 30, he believes that he can emulate others and blossom at an older age. In the 2016 year-end rankings, 12 players over the age of 30 were at or matching their ranking best.
“I’m very much aware of my game, that even though, for example, in this year I didn’t start so well, I didn’t lose faith. So I played really well that middle patch of the year.” He explained.
“So hopefully for next year I’m going to be even better throughout the full season (in 2018). That’s going to give me the chances to play the best guys on a Grand Slams and to perform over my best.”
Guided by former top five player Jonas Bjorkman, Cilic is under no illusion that he must improve his game further to have a chance in the majors. His record against the big four currently stands at 6-39 with Andy Murray being the only player he has managed to defeat multiple times on the tour.
“I’ll try to focus on my fitness, especially in this first part, until maybe December 10, December 15, to try to maybe get a little bit stronger, quicker also around the court.” He revelled about his plans during the off-season.
As one of only three Croatian players to win 400 or more ATP matches, Cilic is hungry to become the first to claim multiple grand slam titles. Something that is certainly not impossible.
Cilic’s 2017 in numbers
- 18-15 on hard courts
- 16-14 in Tie-breaks
- 9-7 at ATP Masters 1000
- 13-4 in Grand Slams
- 2-6 vs. Top 1o
- 10-12 in Decisive Sets
- 39-8 after Winning 1st Set
- 6-14 after Losing 1st Set