Four years ago Marin Cilic was trending skyward, reaching the Australian Open semifinals and finally cracking the ATP’s Top 10.
Now at age 25 and ranked No. 37, the wiry Croatian is starting a second career after serving a brief doping suspension that stunted what was a good start to 2013 and forced him off the tour for almost five months.
“Feels still the same career, but feels like a new beginning for me,” Cilic said in Brisbane after beating Grigor Dimitrov. “Just with the new team and everything, I’m thinking about everything around myself in a different perspective. For me, I had a lot time to think about everything and time to work.
“So overall, of course I’m excited to be in the season and to play, to be back on the tour after all that misery last year.”
Cilic also in the interim parted with longtime coach Bob Brett and hired former Wimbledon champion and countryman Goran Ivanisevic who has helped him with his under-utilized serve and net game.
“I improved my serve,” Cilic said. “That was something special from Goran. We worked a lot on the serve during the off‑season. I feel it’s in really good place and it could help me to play much better, especially against top players.
“We worked a lot also on volleys, and of course game at the net where I had the most space to improve. Last few years I was not doing too well at the net and I wasn’t playing as offensive as I would want to, especially because of my ‑‑ the way I would need to play, like a taller player, to have shorter points and put more pressure o the other guy. I think that’s what is gonna be my key in the rest of the season, and of course rest of my career, to try to push all the time in that direction.”
Cilic added that the transition to Goran has gone very smoothly thus far.
“Goran has been around me all my career,” he said. “He’s been there even when I was working with Bob; he was traveling with me couple times. Each time I would be in Zagreb he’s there. So it’s not something that I haven’t seen him for a couple years that I call him, I okay I need to work.
“For me it was sort of obvious to start to work with him. Definitely I feel now very happy that we did start. Goran showed me already a lot of things. I feel my game is improving. I definitely think he’s also wanting to travel and he wants to be part of the tour again.
And besides humor what will Ivanisevic bring to Marin?
“Definitely experience,” he said. “And I would say all the things that he went through many more times than I did already in my career he can show me and tell me in front.”
“I think he knows the game and he knows what I need to improve on. I think he’s the right guy to help me.”
Cilic will meet second-seeded Kei Nishikori in the quarterfinals today.
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