Q. How was it to walk back again on center court? Memories?
MARIN CILIC: It was for sure amazing. I was very relaxed to come on the court. You know, I played also really well from the beginning, so I adjusted very quickly to the new conditions, if you want to call it that, with the new roof. You know, I just enjoyed myself on the court. It was very hot day, very humid. Evgeny is kind of player that's very, very quick. Gets a lot of balls back. I had to work a little bit extra in some points. But overall, really satisfied with my tennis, and, you know, with serving performance today. So glad to be back on the Arthur Ashe with good tennis, for sure.
Q. You were saying the other day that you felt just being back here where you had so much success last year kind of fed you and made you feel more competent, gave you good feelings. And then to be back out on center court, was that even more enhanced, being on Ashe?
MARIN CILIC: Yeah, absolutely. I feel, you know, that these things are close to me, somewhere around in the air, and I'm feeling that I'm close to finding them again and playing really good tennis. You know, showed even today that I was serving really well. When it counted I was making a lot of first serves in and really playing the attacking tennis that I was also playing last year. I feel, you know, these conditions out there on Arthur Ashe Stadium are bit quicker, the court is quicker, and that suits my game. So really enjoying it. You know, finding always the right way to play on these kind of courts is very important. So I feel, you know, I have the right path that I did last year, which is gonna for sure -- which is giving me the guidance for next matches, for sure.
Q. Only two matches in, still early in the tournament, but as you say, and you sound, really very content right now with the way you're playing. Would you say this is about as confident as you have felt in Grand Slam tennis this year?
MARIN CILIC: Yeah, I would agree with that. You know, I had pretty good Wimbledon, but over there I still felt that with my tennis it was a little bit up and down. But now I'm feeling that the way I'm hitting the ball, the way I'm moving on the court, the way I'm serving, it's really satisfying. So I'm really on a good way, you know. You never know what can happen in next matches, but overall from this position looking into, you know, next matches, I'm feeling pretty happy with it.
Q. Talk about defending your title. Were you nervous?
MARIN CILIC: Well, I was bit nervous before the first round, and even the match in the first round I was a bit nervous, I have to say. That day was very hot and the ball is flying little bit, so when you are a bit tight, you know, it's tough to control the ball. But luckily I was serving really well. That is always, you know, something that is going to calm you. In my kind of tennis, when I'm serving well, I'm very confident and usually I'm giving myself a lot of opportunities on the return games, as well. So it's, I think, the main part of my game.
Q. Winning Grand Slams obviously is the height of the sport. There are athletes that will take on that that with that comes greater expectations. Some people take that on and they use it to enhance their game. Some people have a very difficult time with high expectations. Mardy was just talking about a time when he was playing well and how expectations got the better of him. Do you kind of feed on your breakthrough last year? People do expect more from you because of that. Do you feed on that? Is that a positive vibe for you?
MARIN CILIC: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I was not in a similar situation earlier in my career, but I broke the top 10 and then, you know, slipped with my level of tennis in next few seasons. So, you know, I learned a lesson from there. But, you know, it's just the way you approach it, as you are mentioning. This is a position where I want myself to be in, and I can only take positives out of it. I cannot, you know, look at it as something negative, that, you know, people expect me to play well or I'm expecting myself to play well and to be at top of my game all the time. There is something positive, and shows that I'm able to do it, able to compete with the best, and that's what I'm trying to do and trying to use every day so I can to get the best out of myself. You know, that's the best it can be, I would say.
Q. (Question regarding service motion.)
MARIN CILIC: It was difficult with the shoulder, as it was around, you know, this injury. I had for few months this year. It was middle of the season. So I decided to continue and, you know, at the end get to the situation where I had to stop for a few months. I didn't need to change my service motion, even though some doctors were, you know, encouraging me that, you know, I might have, you know, problems in the future if I continue to do the same. But luckily everything is really well and, you know, I am totally pain-free last several months. So just really focused on tennis.
Q. The fans during the early matches can get really spread out. Were you surprised to see that? Seemed like there were a lot of empty seats on Ashe today.
MARIN CILIC: Surprised? The atmosphere was still pretty good. Towards the end of the match I felt like the stadium was pretty filled. It was fun to play. The stadium is so big, so you can't really see how many people are there. But it was really nice to get back out there and to enjoy the atmosphere, for sure.
Q. Do you notice anything different with the sound on Ashe with the new roof construction? How has that changed since last year?
MARIN CILIC: I feel maybe the sound is, you know, more like indoor. Stays inside. But, you know, when it gets loud in the stadium it's always going to get loud. Doesn't matter roof is there or not. So it's very nice for everybody to play.
Q. Obviously the roof is going to be on next year. The frame is there. Gives it a different feel. When you're on court, how different does it feel?
MARIN CILIC: I would say for the players playing on the stadium it's a positive part, as you are -- most of the day it's shade in there. You are several degrees less than outside on outside courts. It's a privilege to play in there. I feel, you know, the sound is just a bit different and you can really let go on your shots. There is not much wind in there. I feel, you know, as many guys were saying already, that it could give like for the spectators better tennis. It will increase 5 to 10%.
Q. Moving forward, do you think it's an advantage to play in the shade than previous matches because you might be less drained or tired moving to the next match?
MARIN CILIC: Absolutely. When you can get -- when you can save as much energy as possible is always something better. The tournament is two weeks long, so you have to, you know, use every match in best possible way to keep your energy.
Q. Your next round, can you say something about that matchup.
MARIN CILIC: Well, they are -- I think Kukushkin was up by one set. I don't know for later. Any of them I think -- well, Dimitrov is for sure much more dangerous, but Kukushkin, I played him last year and he can -- you know, some tournaments he plays unbelievably well, and then some tournaments he drops his level. So he's very unpredictable player to see and to play. Even though he has great shots and great technique, very tough to beat. I'm going to have to be full ready to get into that match. You know, it's getting better and better each round now.