Marin Cilic is in Dubai this week and faces one of the toughest first rounds having to play Gael Monfils in his opener.
In that regard, Cilic was asked about the improved depth on the tour which the Croat interestingly attributes to bigger paychecks for the players.
“Even the guys that are ranked today in top 60, top 70, even top 100 are great players,” Cilic said Sunday in Dubai. “I think generally when you look at the surface it’s sort of more or less the same throughout the year used to playing in those kind of surfaces. The tournaments are quite similar in that perspective, so the players are also improving and working on their game.
“I think great part in last several years was the increase of the prize money in general terms. That helped all the players that are lower ranked, as well, to increase their team, to expand it, to have bigger support from the people on the side: coaches, physios, fitness coaches.
“I think everyone is playing better and the game has evolved. On the lower levels, it’s increasing. If you are not 100%, if you’re missing just one or two percent, you can easily go out of the tournament.”
Cilic, who made the Australian Open finals a year ago, returned to Melboure this year but only reached the fourth round losing to Roberto Bautista Agut in five sets. The 30-year-old, though, was coming off a knee injury.
“It was a little bit unfortunate for me to have a little bit of an injury in the beginning of the season now for Australian Open,” Cilic said. “I missed Rotterdam, which was on my schedule.
“But generally I’ll try to play, try to maybe reduce couple tournaments in this year. Great part for me is I’m not having Davis Cup this year until the end of the year, so that gives me another three, four weeks in the year that I can rest and continue to work.
“Definitely a big motivation is going to play the best at the big tournaments. Grand Slams are always even extra motivation. Looking forward to continuing to play that on a great level, just to even get better in 2019 comparing to 2018, which was one of my best years looking into the consistency of results. I played three times quarters at the Grand Slams, five times also quarters or better in the Masters 1000s tournaments. Hopefully I can continue that consistent form.”
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