Marin Cilic Presser: It Seems Unreal To Be Called A Grand Slam Champion, This Is The Peak Of The World
by Tom Gainey | September 8th, 2014, 9:53 pm

Playing in his first career Grand Slam final, Marin Cilic took home the US Open title thrashing Kei Nishikori 63, 63, 63 today in the final. The 25-year-old Cilic becomes the first Croatian to win a Slam since his coach won Wimbledon in 2001.

Cilic ended the event winning his last 10 sets including straight set victories over Tomas Berdych and Roger Federer. The 6-foot-6 Cilic also moves to No. 9 into the next ATP rankings, and he’ll also qualify for the ATP London finals at the end of the year.

Cilic, who didn’t even play the US Open a year ago while he was sitting out for a doping ban, met the press.

Q. First of all, congratulations. Remarkable run. If you can just put into context what this means to you, you know, take into context where you were last year, what you have been able to accomplish this year and being a Grand Slam champion all in one.

MARIN CILIC: I mean, seems completely unreal to be called Grand Slam champion. I was dreaming about this all my life, and suddenly last four, five days everything started to change. And with my tennis especially. I started to play absolutely unbelievable starting with the fifth set with Simon. After that I had unbelievable run of the matches against these top guys. And what it means to me, it means everything. It’s just a huge accomplishment and huge moment for myself and for my team and for everybody around me who was with me all these years supporting me, believing in me and never giving up. So this is just the peak of the world.

Q. Could this have happened maybe without the absence from tennis last year? The work you put in maybe give you a renewed perspective on the importance of the game?


Q. With the absence from tennis last year, do you think that was in a way a steppingstone to you, getting your game to the level? That it is, having the time to work on your game, but also a renewed perspective on importance of the game to you?

MARIN CILIC: I felt the first part that helped me was the mental toughness, being much stronger and I was much tougher with myself on the tennis court when I was practicing and also when I was playing matches. The other part was enjoying much more on the court before in these last several years since I had really good success in 2010. Then I started to slip a little bit and I was not enjoying so much on the court. I was always looking for the result, hoping it’s gonna come back. It was not working. So things changed around and flipped it over with trying to enjoy on the court and enjoy every moment, which helped me to be much more relaxed. I feel that was the most important part for my game.

Q. When you were playing final, my Croatian friends from Dubrovnik knew that I work for TV and they were telling me please scream (in Croatian.) When you won, I asked my friends, I’m going to press conference now. I’m going to ask him. Tell me what you want me to ask him. They’re like, just tell him that he’s our hero, that all Dubrovnik, all Croatia were just cheering for him. You’re going to go back. What do you feel? What can you tell to your Croatian friends because you made them so proud today?

MARIN CILIC: (Phone ringing.)

THE MODERATOR: They’re calling right now.

MARIN CILIC: I spoke with a couple of people, with my family at home, with my godfather in Zagreb. He told me that I cannot imagine how it is like everybody celebrating. Everybody was glued to the TVs. He was like, I mean, World Cup atmosphere all over Croatia. So for me the message would be to everybody big, big thank you for all the support and believing in me. That definitely made me stronger, made me more hungry to win. I think it’s a special day for me, but extremely special day for all of Croatia.

Q. Any idea this was possible when you landed in New York? Did you have to change your flight home and hotel booking?

MARIN CILIC: No, no, I mean, everything was planned to stay, that we leave on Tuesday. (Phone ringing.) Sorry. Oh, my God. (Laughter.) Yeah, everything was planned to leave Tuesday, but sort of I was not hoping. I mean, I was hoping, but I felt it was really far for me. You know, when you start a tournament you sort of win first match, second match, and you are playing well but you’re not playing against top guys. Sort of you don’t know what to expect, how you’re going to deal with the pressure. I mean, overall with all these last three players or four players that I played against I had losing record. So even coming into any of those matches was, you know, trying to win and not sort of knowing that I’m going to do it. Considering everything, I mean, it’s a miracle.

Q. At what point did you really start working intensively with Goran? Because the reports vary from June to November. And then in retrospect, did you feel that not being able to play for four months helped you change your game and evaluate your game?

MARIN CILIC: With Goran we started to work from day one very, very intensively and very hard.

Q. No, but what month?

MARIN CILIC: We started to work September 1st. Since then until like sort of end of the year we were working very, very hard. Goran in his day was I feel, and by most of the guys were saying, he was athletically and physically best player in shape. And he was absolutely ready for everything. We worked a lot on that. I felt that helped me to gain some, you know, extra steps in my game. With everything, that helped me to become better.

Q. You gave a terrific, emotional talk right after the final, the post-match. The address was: work hard; good things will come. How hard was it? You seem to be a very caring guy. You have feelings. How hard was it to not break down at that point? Work hard and good things will pay off. It was very motivational.

MARIN CILIC: Definitely. That’s what I felt in last several years. I was swirling around ranking top 20, 25, 15 and things were some days going well, some not. You are a lot of the time up and down. It’s, I feel, very inspirational for all the other guys out there who are, you know, working and sometimes losing motivation, having trouble to dig deep and to believe in the achievements. I would definitely feel much stronger if I would see somebody like me accomplish things like this. It sort of came out of nowhere for me. Few things clicked in just right before tournament sort of. I felt great about them, and match after match I played really good tennis. These last three matches, everything was working perfectly.

Q. Before the trophy ceremony you were trying to call somebody. Who were you texting with? Was it a guy, or gal who took a call from a Grand Slam champion?

MARIN CILIC: Well, the reception wasn’t there. I called — I wanted to call my family back home. Only my brother, my younger brother was here. He’s in college. He just arrived to college to U.S., so he was able to come. And at home was huge celebration. I mean, they were already celebrating after quarterfinal and having huge, huge — fun and huge party. I was just trying to talk with them to say thank you for all the support and for, you know, everything they did for me.

Q. So it’s not working, the network?

MARIN CILIC: Yeah, no, I didn’t have time then, and I called them after.

Q. For so many years, just a few players dominated the majors. What do you think this US Open will mean not just for your future but for men’s tennis’ future?

MARIN CILIC: In one way, I mean, a lot of guys are saying people would like to watch top four guys much more to extend their streak at the top and to extend their run at the Grand Slams, because, I mean, they attract the most, the fans and the TV, and everybody else. But sort of one day definitely they gonna go out and there’s gonna be a need for somebody else. I feel this time, this year — I mean, I think the guys from second line were a bit lucky because Andy Murray was also having trouble with his back; Wawrinka was up and down with his tennis after Australia; few other players were not playing at the best all the time. And Rafa is not here. So that opened a little bit the gate for everybody else. I feel it’s gonna definitely be much bigger competition from next year. I feel the guys at the top are gonna pull the other guys, too. I think the game of tennis is definitely going to evolve much more.

Q. In the third set, about fifth or sixth game, you had a very tough service game. Two break points; missed a few forehand returns. Looked like you were a little bit nervous at that point. Seemed like it could have turned around there. You got through it. How did that happen?

MARIN CILIC: Yeah, that was critical game definitely for the whole match to be able to be ahead. I was, at the end, playing through the wind. It was a bit tougher to, you know, just finish the point with a serve. The crowd got themselves going. They wanted to extend the match, for sure, to root for, Kei which is absolutely normal. When I came on that side on 4-1, I was just hoping to win one of the two games. Either to break his serve or to win my game. I felt that when I’m going to be at the end with the wind I’m going to definitely win one game, and that’s going to be enough. Yeah, it was very tense moment, and lucky that I got through those couple break points.

Q. (Regarding Goran’s sense of humor.) Did he ever tell you that no Croatian player lost a slam final on a Monday? (Laughter.)

MARIN CILIC: Yeah, we were mentioning that. They were saying 13 years past since he won his Wimbledon title and that happened on Monday, and now none of the Croatians can lose at the final on Monday.

Q. And then another thing about Croatian tennis, how do you explain? You win this slam, Ivanisevic, Wimbledon, Ljubicic No. 3 in the world, you won Davis Cup, Karlovic top 15. It’s a small country yours. You don’t have that much long, long, long tradition. How do you explain it? Is tennis a big thing? Not as big as basketball or soccer.

MARIN CILIC: I feel in Croatia most of the guys who play sport, doesn’t matter which sport, everybody is very, very emotional and emotional to win, emotional when they lose. The small group that are going through, the ones that are extremely emotional and being able to control it and also not to accept the loss and to fight through, I feel that this is, you know, what makes Croatians good. It’s no other explanation. We don’t have good tennis schools. We don’t have too long of a tradition, as you said. We don’t have tennis centers like in bigger countries, France, Spain, that year after year the young ones are going through. Just, you know, every several years some youngster just comes up out of nowhere and he’s playing great tennis, and I feel that that’s the most important part that is in every one of us.

Q. You talk about the joy that Goran gave you. Some of us have been around long enough to cover him. What kind of a goofy guy he can be? Can you give us an example of the kind of things he did goosing you up a bit over the years?

MARIN CILIC: Yeah, I mean, we all know how Goran is emotional on the court, but that’s only when he’s playing. That’s his desire to win, and difficult to control the emotions. But sort of when he’s on the practice court, when he’s with me, he’s always really, really calm or nervous when he’s watching. He brought just, in the team, very relaxed atmosphere, besides extremely huge knowledge. The help he brought to me, I feel that the fun is the best spice of everything, that I think collects all the other pieces together. I mean, every day with him is extremely fun.

Q. What did he do to make it fun? Tell us a story.

MARIN CILIC: Nothing, nothing special. Just relaxed. He’s relaxed on the court, enjoying, and always with him some fun comments about anything.

Q. First of all, about Goran, you said the other day it was the little things all together. Could you just point out a few of the little things he helped you with? And you also said that since the last set against Simon you had just been playing unbelievable. Obviously you have been so forceful, so incredible. Why do you think you kicked into that A+ game?

MARIN CILIC: Well, at the beginning when we started to work, we sat together and Goran told me that my game and my tennis has to be aggressive tennis. I can’t play too much tactically, because most of the times before I was dealing too much with the tactics against players and not focusing on my game. It was always in a bad ratio. It was more thinking about tactics, like 70%, and thinking about my game, to do those things well in a smaller percentage. Then we started to work together. It wasn’t easy to change my perspective and to change completely my mindset. It took definitely, you know, even five, six months of the tournaments to be able to sink that into me and that I know on the court that’s the right way for me to play. That was the most difficult part. But from all the other parts, definitely serve has improved enormously, and then everything else has followed. Because I was much more pushing myself to play the way of the game I need to play. Week after week, I mean, you have to get better in what you do.

Q. And then since the Simon match…

MARIN CILIC: Yeah, since Simon, I mean, over there in that match, as I was mentioning, was very difficult conditions. Very humid. I felt that over there in mental part I didn’t fall back like I did a little bit in Wimbledon against Novak after being up two sets to one, and I was very focused on that. That I have to keep — you know, to have conviction in my shots and to have strong determination that I don’t back off of my game. Since that moment, I was playing that way until the end of the tournament.

Q. How much last year at this time were you following or watching the US Open, including the final?

MARIN CILIC: I watched actually a lot of the matches. Of course you want to watch the guys and maybe you’re gonna catch a few tactical things you see. I felt that Rafa was playing amazing tennis against Novak and it was really good tournament. Wawrinka also made sort of a breakthrough beating Murray. I was involved in tennis because I was training every day either physically or tennis, and I didn’t let my mind go away because I was hoping to return any day.

Q. And did you have any thoughts about a year from now?

MARIN CILIC: No. I was hoping just to come back on the tour and that would be the biggest joy in my life, definitely.

Q. You are with an executive club. Do you remember what you do July 9, 2001, when Goran won his Wimbledon title? Did you watch anyway the game, how he impressed you, and what was your feeling at that time?

MARIN CILIC: It’s most common question in Croatia probably. (Laughter). I mean, not to say it’s a bad question. It’s just that any Croatian knows where he was at that time because he was it was such a huge moment in Croatia, hoping that Goran is going to win it finally after so many years. It was sort of late in his career. I was doing a camp during summertime close to my home. We were, you know, many kids just glued to TV and watching, jumping around. It was absolutely huge celebration in Croatia. Even with the videos still today you can see how big support he got when he came home. He was around like 200, 250,000 people waiting for him.

Q. When he came home he stripped off his clothes and jumped into the sea. Can you top that?

MARIN CILIC: No. (Laughter.) I’m going for Davis Cup.

Q. Wawrinka winning in Melbourne, he said it was a little bit complicated with his expectation and all the emotions. How do you think you will deal with being a Grand Slam champion now?

MARIN CILIC: I think I’m going to have to wait seven days when I come back to Croatia just to see what a huge thing I did, because with all the news and even — I mean, all the Croatian sport athletes were giving me huge support. Even the national football team. They made a video sending huge support for me. I feel it’s gonna definitely change my life. I don’t know in which kind of way, but I am definitely not gonna change. With that definitely it’s gonna come a lot of things that I’m going to have to do, but still I am gonna play tennis, enjoy, and always look forward to these big events.

Q. As you said before, you don’t have a great record against Kei. What was your mindset coming to this final and facing to Kei? Did you try to do some like different tactics or something this time?

MARIN CILIC: Well, we never played against each other on such a huge event. I mean, most important day for both of us. All our matches were either quarterfinals or even before that, and I knew that today if I’m going to be playing well I’m going to have a good chance. Because even few matches I have lost to Kei were extremely close. Even this year at Brisbane was very close match. Few years back when he won over here at the US Open was also extremely close match. And, yeah, I just felt if I’m going to be playing right, I’m going to have a good chance. But you never know when you come on the court. You can’t be stuck with your own tactics. If it’s working well, of course; but if not, you have to be open. I was, you know, just very focused on that to do my things well.

Q. Goran was a superstitious guy back in his playing days. Wondered if you or either of you have any superstitions here in New York?

MARIN CILIC: Absolutely. Every second day is the same day for all of us, and just before coming to, you know, tennis they would go have a – my fitness trainer, physio and Goran – would have a coffee, have breakfast at the same place. I would stay back at our place, have breakfast on my own. And then, I mean, many different things. Not shaving. Myself not shaving. Not shaving himself. Yeah, it was just Goran was going through his Wimbledon moments again. (Laughter.) We didn’t watch Teletubbies, though.

Q. We were told that yesterday only the Croatian TV both arrive from EuroSport. So there was no coverage. But you saw the match last year. You said you saw the US Open. So last year there was coverage? This year not?

MARIN CILIC: No. It was still EuroSport.

Q. They didn’t trust your…

MARIN CILIC: No, no. Yeah, they got, you know, bad reputation through media and through everybody.

Q. There were a lot of Croatian journalists; this year no one, apart from today. What is the difference. Do you think for the Japanese who were 30 people, photographers, all behind Nishikori, was it better for you to be little more relaxed? I mean, not having too much pressure and media around?

MARIN CILIC: Well, concerning the, you know, Croatian journalists, they would all want to, you know, visit the big tournaments, but the economy is bad. So, I mean, everybody is saving. Well, if I had less pressure or not it’s difficult to say. But for sure, you know, from this year I sort of built around myself good team, and everybody is doing their own job. I’m not thinking about too much all these things around, media, whatever, whatever necessary. I’m just focused on tennis. That, you know, helped me definitely to become better. Yeah, I mean, it’s for sure huge days in Croatia and Japan. When I’m going to be back home it’s going to be a huge wave of journalists definitely.

Q. What was the key to winning the whole tournament?

MARIN CILIC: Yeah, it was — I mean, the key was definitely I was playing my own game and it was working extremely well. Last ten sets I played I played amazing tennis with everything, starting from serve, starting from movement, all different shots. Return with Federer. In Federer’s match was great I think overall. My performances were great.

Q. Any thoughts about your former coach and the credit you give him for what you achieved today?

MARIN CILIC: Yeah, I mean, thoughts are just being grateful so much also to be with him and to learn from him as he coached so many great players, great champions. He sort of built for me a mindset and learned me about the game. Just he built, for me, huge base that I’m, you know, collecting all the berries of today. With Goran, definitely that just small piece made it, you know, special. So for Bob, I mean, I can’t be more grateful, because I’m also because of him a great player today like I am.

Q. Can you share with us how are you planning to celebrate?

MARIN CILIC: Well, I was told tomorrow I have a long day.

Q. Then celebration tomorrow?

MARIN CILIC: Yeah. Tomorrow in the evening we are leaving, so today is going to be the celebration… All over Manhattan. (Laughter.) I hope it’s not going to be hangover No. 4.

Q. Along the same lines, do you have any plans for $3 million?

MARIN CILIC: No. I definitely didn’t think about that. Of course you have that in your mind, but I was just focusing on to play well. Yeah, with that it comes big, big whatever, big gift. So, yeah, I’m going to definitely split a little bit with my team. They deserved it. It’s for all of us a huge moment.

Q. A very difficult question: Your wonderful coach of course is famous for his three personalities. The regular Goran Ivanisevic, the emergency Goran, and then freak-out Goran. As a player and as a coach, did you see those three? Talk about those three different personalities. What makes him so special? What personality do you like the best?

MARIN CILIC: Yeah, well, by the way, he was mentioning to me that that was the biggest mistake in his life, doing that interview and saying about all those things, because everybody is asking him about that. You know, Goran is a great guy. You get to know him and he has a huge heart. Anyone who asks him for help, he’s gonna help in one way or the other. That’s the way he is. With personalities, I think he has only one, and that’s with a very big heart.

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47 Comments for Marin Cilic Presser: It Seems Unreal To Be Called A Grand Slam Champion, This Is The Peak Of The World

Bob Lewis Says:

Geez, so many questions about Goran. Marin’s career will surpass his coach’s.

Eric Says:

“With personalities, I think he has only one, and that’s with a very big heart.”


Michael Says:

I predicted Cilic to win this one against prevailing conventional wisdom which opted for Kei and I got it bang on. This US Open has been quite productive for me as far as my predictions are concerned and the only one where I erred was in picking Novak over Kei.

Skeezer Says:

What prevailing wisdom? I read others as well as I predicted a Cilic win. You were not a island. Sorry, but your arrogancy is showing…..

Michael Says:

Now coming to Cilic’s win, I think this is going to create a massive shake up at the top and upset the existing hierarchy. Already, it has created massive tremors and if he can maintain this consistency in the remaining part of his career, then I can confidently bet that he would not stop with just one Major. The way he beat Berdych and Roger in straight sets in back to back matches is something extraordinary and remarkable. Now coming to the finals, I think both the players were nervous at the beginning of the match but Kei looked a shade jaded presumably consumed by his excessive exertion in earlier matches. But, he had just no answers to Cilic’s ferocious first serve and flat hitting and that is precisely where I think the role of Ivanisevic comes in where he has helped Cilic hone his serving skills adding more pace, variety and zeal to his serves. It would be difficult to believe that this was the player who was banned for four months last year on the charge of taking banned substance and he has turned around for the better. Cilic said after the match that hard work pays and it indeed has paid dividends for him (not for everybody). After Cilic just ran away with the match and won, there was jubiliation in his camp and Ivanasevic had the last laugh. There can be nobody more happy than him when his mentee realized what any aspiring Tennis player wants to achieve in his career. Obviously Ivanisevic seemed more elated than when he won his first Wimbledon title.

Michael Says:

But the prize distribution ceremony was a disaster with not much fanfare and glitz that you normally associate with such ceremonies which is the fitting tribute that is accorded to Champions. Unlike other majors, where you have legends presenting the trophy, the US Open just sidestepped it for whatever reasons unable to decipher ? And noticeably, Cilic was given 3 million dollars as prize money as compared to the Women’s Champion Serana Williams who was awarded 4 million dollars. Was it a bonus that Serana earned or is there a gender discrimination here ?

Eric Says:

Serena also won the US Open Series, Michael.

Okiegal Says:

@Michael…..I got it bang on too……..I knew Kei couldn’t beat Marin. I can’t believe that some of the knowledgeable tennis gurus on this forum thought he could and would….

Michael Says:


Allow me to treasure my moments. By conventional wisdom, I did not mean the whole fraternity. There was ofcourse a division but it was loaded more in favour of Kei than Cilic with nearly 90% of analysts and commentators picking him to win with few exceptions. If you had indeed predicted Cilic to win, it is well and good and you can lift your collar that you got it right and I would warmly appreciate it. But to accuse me of arrogance is a bit overstretched. I am not gloating over my prediction, I am just saying that I got it bang on this time around and I may well be wrong the next time. Prediction is like astrology and it can go horribly wrong and not in preserve of anybody’s picking.

Eric Says:

“couldn’t” is a really stupid word. Nishikori has beaten Cilic many times. Lots of us picked Cilic after the way he destroyed Roger, but come on.

Michael Says:


Congrats to you too for picking the right winner against conventional wisdom !!

Michael Says:


Point taken on Serana’s prize money which exceeded Cilic. So, she has got a Bonus for her US series win. But I think men should be paid more prize money than women and that is a endless debate going on in Tennis circles.

metan Says:

Congratulations to Mirin Cilic. He deserves it.

Michael Says:


By couldn’t Okiegal must have just indicated that in the context of this particular match.

Eric Says:

Still stupid.

Michael Says:

Welcome Metan to the Forum. It has been after quite sometime that you are once again chatting here. Yes, Cilic certainly deserves what he has achieved and Tennis has a new Champion. It was also the need of the hour as there was a big vacuum at the top with the exception of Roger, Rafa, Novak and Andy and the game needs competition and a bit of shake up. Roger is 33 and Novak and Rafa too are almost on the last leg of their prime. So,there was this compelling urgency for fresh blood at the top and hopefully Cilic would fill in that role after the absence of Del Potro who was considered the only worthy challenger. So, let us see how it goes from here on. When Wawarinka won the Australian Open, much was expected from him, but he failed to live up to the promise except by winning another Master at Monte Carlo. So, let us see how Cilic performs relatively.

Okiegal Says:


In my post I should have chosen my wording more carefully. I didn’t mean to imply that he couldn’t ever beat Marin, because as you said he has. I just didn’t feel he would have the goods today to beat him. Marin was playing out of his mind these two weeks, not saying that Kei didn’t play fantastic too, I just didn’t feel he would have enough in the tank to get it done. But come on, cut me some slack……sometime I post before thinking things out……Kei is a great player and excited to see more of him.

@Michael…….conventional wisdom…..what’s that? LOL I’m not gonna call you out on the arrogance issue……learned my lesson!! Lol

Okiegal Says:


Regarding my stupid comment, hey, my shoulders are broad and I can take it. After what I went through last week……insinuating I’m stupid…..mild!!

Okiegal Says:

@Michael 12:38

That is exactly what I meant……Oh, well…..

Michael Says:


By conventional wisdom, I just meant it in the context of a prevailing pattern of picking Kei. May be it was wrong usage in a sense and I could have just said prevailing wisdom.

Margot Says:

Well played Marin. Amazing run. Shame about Kei. Really like his game.
Only saw first set, but late in UK and Kei looked so flat, thought uh oh.
And the good news is….ahem…I’ve met a Grand Slam Champ…;)

jane Says:

^ well done margot – up-close-and-personal! :)

missed all of it but saw highlights and marin’s run up to the box. couldn’t find the speech/ceremony, though, which i was hoping to hear.

i suspect we’ll see more of both these players next year.

Steve 27 Says:

If Wawrinka won his major with almost 29, cilc can win a couple of more majors in the next 3 years. Will be interesting to see his performance in Wimbledon, if he can win there like Goran.

Steve 27 Says:

The joke of the year, thanks to “Boom Boom”
Boris Becker : “Novak was mentally exhausted at USO because of Nadal’s injury”…colo23093.html

Giles Says:

Steve 27. LMAO. What’s that all about?

Gordon Says:

My my, aren’t we quick to pat ourselves on our backs and say how brilliant we were for picking Cilic as the winner of yesterday’s final.

The only one’s who should be bragging are those who said he would win 15 DAYS AGO!

What is it with you people that you have to constantly show how good your predicting abilities are, when in fact – certainly in this tournament – they sucked?

Now here comes the inevitable “how great Marin is and how he will win multiple slams and blah blah blah.

Looking to jump on this bandwagon? Read the comments in here post JMDP’s US Open win over Fed. They comments are eerily familiar to what we are starting to read about Cilic.

Polo Says:

Bravo, Gordon for smacking some sense into the heads of those people who pat their backs for their “brilliance” for picking Cilic to win the US Open a mere few hours before it happened. Hahaha!

ertorque Says:

The tallest player to ever win a Slam in the Open era perhaps? If one can move as well as Cilic can and is endowed with his height, perhaps we are now looking at beyond 6’2″/3″ for the ‘ideal’ player in the future.

Ben Pronin Says:

To be fair, Del Potro probably would have won a slam or 2 more if not for his injuries. Plus his career isn’t over.

I’m not sure Cilic will win other slams. He certainly, well obviously, has the game to do it. I’m curious to see where both finalists go from here. Hopefully they build on this but who knows?

I know I’ve been calling for new blood for a while but something about Cilic breaking through at 25 is still unsettling to me. He’s not “new blood”. He’s been a consistent player for over half a decade now. And Nishikori isn’t a spring chicken, either. He’s 24. The last 3 first time slam champs have been 25 or older. This includes Murray. Del Potro and Djokovic were both 20 when they won. Nadal 19. And I think Federer was 21 or 22 which was considering a late breakthrough back when he did it. And now it’s 25 and 28?

I don’t know. I’m not upset that these guys won. But this is not a particularly good trend, either. Maybe Cilic is the next number 1, but I doubt it. Let’s say, best case, he builds on this and has a super 2015 and becomes number 1. What next? He’ll be 27 at the end of next year. He’s not going to be an all time champion. Hell even Murray hasn’t sniffed the number 1 ranking yet and he’s been a part of the Big 4!

RZ Says:

Interesting that with all the talk of new faces on the women’s side (Halep, Bouchard), the WTA had 4 repeat grand slam champions this year while it was the ATP that had 2 first-time champs.

RZ Says:

@ertorque – I’d noticed Cilic’s movement back when he reached the Australian Open semis. He certainly moves very well for a guy that tall.

jane Says:

i think we should not forget nick kyrgios! he could very well be the next “big” thing. he’s young and he’s not going away after upsetting nadal. he had chances against robredo but he’s still a work in progress.

he’s got speed and power and i hugely ambitious and competitive attitude. he’s 19. he wants to be number 1. he says he knows he needs to be mentally and physically stronger. he was ranked outside the top 800 just over a year ago and now he’s 53. he won challengers this year on clay and grass, reached the quarters of wimbleond and the r32 at the us open. i don’t know if he’ll do it, but he seems like he could.

steve27, i don’t get your post? the link has nothing to do with your comment, which is am pretty sure is untrue.

Humble Rafa Says:

The joke of the year, thanks to “Boom Boom”
Boris Becker : “Novak was mentally exhausted at USO because of Nadal’s injury”…colo23093.html

Yes, I now have the ability to mentally exhaust anyone from Mallorca. Next stop – Cilikori

Humble Rafa Says:

It is also disappointing to see so many not-so intelligent people talking about Cilic doping.

Polo Says:

The joke of the year: @3:44 AM

RZ Says:

@Margot – when/how did you meet Cilic?

I’ve met a few players when I volunteered as a driver for a local tournament. The GS champ I met was DelPo. All the players I met were nice although most were not conversational as they were either jetlagged or were speaking in a different language with their team members.

Steve27 Says:

Lendl won 8 slams from 24 years and 3 months.
Vilas won 4 slams from 24 and 10 months.

Nishikori must be physically fit better if hw wants to become a winner of a GS.
Stefan Edberg who was not a prodigy physically speaking, won his last major at 26 years and 8 months after a tremendous second week at the US Open in 1992 and was even more difficult than the way the Japanese.

Despite all the above, congratulations to the best Japanese tennis player of all time

Patrick Says:

Good thing he doesn’t watch Teletubbies anymore.
That show will cause long-lasting hallucinations if you’re not careful.
A very wise pre-match decision from his camp.

jane Says:

well if becker really said that, he’d better have been joking! :O

Humble Rafa Says:

May I kindly request that his board consider senior discount for the Arrogant One. Which means, he is in the Trunk only every other week.

You don’t want to torture old people every week, do you?

Humble Compassion

MMT Says:

I hate to rain on Cilic’s parade here, but I think it’s a little early to start proclaiming a shake-up in tennis or the beginning of a “Pax Cilicus”. First, let’s not forget that Cilic didn’t exactly grind it out the last two matches – his level was so high that find it unlikely that he could sustain it for another major, so if this is his only way to win a major, my guess is he’s won his last.

Having said that, he did show a lot of technical improvements that helped him – he added an effective slice against Nishikori, which forced him to hit up on the backhand, which is not the strength of a two hander, and his serve was other worldly. The slice is a sustainable addition, but I don’t see him serving like that forever.

Cilic improved his movement, and generally this is the main reason that players over a certain height have very little chance of winning majors – no matter how hard you hit it, the court is only so big, so it’s rare that you will be able to hit hard enough that nobody can get it back consistently, therefore movement and point construction are STILL the keys to sustainable achievement in tennis. Everyone thought del Potro was the beginning of a new era in tennis, and while some have put his stagnation down entirely to injuries, I don’t believe that has been the case.

del Potro has not improved his game at all since he won the US Open, and he was younger than Cilic when he won. Furthermore, with so many players playing well into their 30’s at a high level, while Cilic’s horizon may be long, so too are those of his contemporaries.

To be perfectly honest, as well as he played, and as much as I enjoyed watching him win this tournament, I don’t see where he can improve much going forward. He could add a net game, but that would require movement going forward and backwards that so far in his career he hasn’t shown. The slice with Nishikori was effective, but only in the context of a forehand that was bang-on. If that returns to the less potent version of itself, the slice won’t help him much.

In the end, I think Dimitrov and Nishikori have a better chance of sustainable success than Cilic and Raonic – power only gets you so far in tennis.

Okiegal Says:

@MMT^^^^^ Good read…..I think you raise some good points…..I too, think it’s way too early, however he played some great tennis to win the title and don’t want to down play that in any way. He’s no spring chicken either and has been around a long time……we will have to wait and see what’s in the stars for Cilic the Champion!! Should be interesting.

Daniel Says:

Has anybody ever won last 3 rounds of the US Open in straight sets as Cilic did?! quarters, semis and finals.


What about, even if Cilic doesn’t evolve much but, if he keeps this level in majors?! I think he has a good shot, specially Wimbledon and also AO where he will have more time to swing and prepare point even tough his oponent will also have more time to return back in play.

Cilic point constructiin was perfect and he missed way to few balls. Other than Simon match who he had never beaten before he was perfect. Contrary to wawrinka who beat novak in 5 was beating Nadal convincingly til beggining second set AO but lost a set due to all the drama of Nadal injury. He showed more mental fragility than Cilic. Of coirse, Wawa was playing Nadal and Cilic Nishikori. ALthough kei was the olayer to beat this tourney and Cilci was the o ly ome offensive enough to dk so.

I just think this victory was too impressive to be a one only.
To me he has a better chance if winning another major at this point than Rainic, Nishikori, Dimitrov at all.

skeezer Says:

MMT excellant read and Humble Rafa not funny as usual, yawn.

MMT Says:

Daniel: to answer your first question, Federer 2007. To be fair he didn’t dominate quite the way Cilic did, we just remember him having done so because he was generally so good – actually the only other time

A few have won as decisively in the last 3 rounds as well as Cilic did – Lendl in 1985. He was more dominant in 1986, but he dropped a set to Henri Leconte who was known for playing well for a set and then flaming out. Edberg also beat the hell out of everyone in 1991 (’92 was the herculean effort that most remember).

As for Cilic maintaining this level? No chance – nobody plays that well for that long. I’m not saying he won’t be very good, and better than he’s been, but I think he has to play this well to win majors, and the likelihood of that is too low for me expect him to do it again.

I think mental fragility is an over-used term, and overrated concept. Players look mentally fragile when they can’t sustain a high level of play AND can’t grind out wins (i.e. no plan B). The reality is NOBODY can sustain a really high level of play forever.

But the great players have a lot of ways to beat you. Cilic doesn’t, so he’s looked mentally fragile, when in fact he doesn’t have the game. And vice versa – you look real tough mentally when your game is bang-on and/or when you’ve got 10 different ways to beat your opponents, when in reality you’re just playing well or very resourceful.

Of course you feel stronger about your game when things are going well – who wouldn’t? – but in my view that has less to do with results than how you play. Tennis isn’t chess – you’ve got to do it physically, so fitness counts for a lot, being technically resourceful does too. From these two you can make the right tactical choices which is key to winning consistently.

Again, I hope I’m wrong because he’s a guy who’s been wronged by this doping nonsense and seems very committed to being the best he can be – I’m just not convinced that his best is sustainable, given that it has now shown itself to be enough.

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