Cilic: My goal is top 10
Originally published on: 24/05/13 00:00
The world No.12 has struggled to produce his best tennis on his least favourite surface since the European clay swing got underway in Monte Carlo. After a round of 16 appearance in the principality, Cilic has fallen to lower-ranked opposition in the opening round in Munich and Madrid and in the second round in Rome but after taking this week off to prepare the Croat is feeling confident ahead of the season’s second Grand Slam.
“After a pretty solid first three months of the year [and] also after the quarter-final in Miami I thought I’d have some pretty good results on clay and it didn’t happen the way I wanted,” said Cilic, who will play Germany’s Philipp Petzschner in the first round. “[But] I don’t think it will have a big impact in Roland Garros, it is a bit different. I had ten days after Rome and [I had] more time to work on my game so I will be mentally fresh and tennis wise I am on the court hitting the ball well and hoping I can transfer this into matches.”
Cilic’s best showing at the French Open was a fourth round appearance in 2009 and 2010 and this year the No.10 seed finds himself in the same quarter of the draw as Roger Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The Croat is no stranger to upsets though – he beat then world No.2 Andy Murray at the 2009 US Open – and he feels recent results on the clay will have given challengers to the big four some confidence.
“I would say in a way [the gap between the big four and the rest] is getting smaller,” said Cilic, who will be showcasing a special edition HEAD tennis bag in Paris. “For many years the top four were not going too much up and down with their form they were really consistent but, I mean, for them the biggest focus is the Grand Slams. Some of them are taking a bit more time and some of them are working on some things but when they come to a Grand Slam they are always really sharp. But for the players [to] know that they can beat them is, you know, a positive mental thing which is always going to play a role in the bigger matches.”
The former Australian Open semi-finalist, who reached a career-high No.9 in February 2010, has not returned to the top ten since dropping out in April of that same year but with a renewed focus the 24-year-old is hoping his best years are ahead of him.
“I mean definitely [my goal this year] is going to be to try to get into the top ten. That’s the first step to make but also I have to be looking much more forward too, to work on my game to be able to be much better. I have to always be improving and I hope that I can be better and better day after day. Even No.1s try to improve as well, it’s not just ‘okay I reached No.1 and I am done’. It’s always this competing with yourself and trying to do much better and to push yourself, push your limits.”
HEAD Tennis has joined (RED) and the fight against AIDS with the launch of a HEAD (PRODUCT)RED Special Edition bag collection. Marin Cilic is one of 75 players who will carry the (HEAD)RED Special Edition racquet bag at the French Open. For further information go to http://head.com/red