After a strong start to the year, Marin Cilic is looking to improve and potentially break into the Top 2 of the ATP Rankings. Having arrived in the Coachella Valley last week to prepare for the BNP Paribas Open, the first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament, the Croatian feels that he is ready to make a big run.
“In order to play well, you need to be fresh mentally and strong physically,” said Cilic. “You also need to be hungry when you come to play. It's difficult on the body and on the mind when you play week after week. It's not easy to push yourself every day, so balance is key.
“Playing two out of past three Grand Slam finals (2017 Wimbledon, 2018 Australian Open) guides me in the right direction. I've been improving a lot, but I want more. I'm happy to be No. 3 [in the ATP Rankings], but I want to keep improving and reach as high as possible.”
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After making an appearance in his third Grand Slam championship final in January, Cilic opted to skip the European indoor swing in favour of a trip to the clay of the Rio Open presented by Claro (l. to Monfils in second round).
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“Generally, I haven't done too well during this US swing at Indian Wells and Miami,” said Cilic. “I feel I played really well on clay last year and that set me up for solid play on grass. I decided to do something different this year, play outdoors. So hopefully this decision pays off.”
Cilic has notoriously struggled in the dry, thinner air of Indian Wells and in 10 previous attempts (9-10 match record) he has only advanced to one quarter-final, in 2016 (l. to Goffin).
“It's something that I'm trying to figure out myself,” said Cilic, the second seed in Indian Wells. “The conditions vary here, day by day. Even last week, it was very cold during the evenings. The temperature is up and down and I'm never as comfortable as I'd like.
“But I need to remember what got me to this position. It gives me motivation to keep pushing forward. I'm focused on the things I need to do and I'm sure the results will follow.”
Cilic will open his Indian Wells campaign against Serbia’s Viktor Troicki or Marton Fucsovics of Hungary.