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An Interview With: Marin Cilic (Quarterfinals)

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Q. When you see yourself in the fifth set after three match points in the fourth, what's going your mind? How do you regroup?

MARIN CILIC: Well, at the tiebreak when I was going down a bit with the score I was, you know, obviously disappointed with that.

At that point I was mentally on a scale either left or right. I'm going to break or, you know, either -- I was asking myself, Am I going to change anything for the fifth set if it comes, or then I'm going to keep going with the same game plan?

Then I decided to, you know, stay mentally tough. You know, I was looking, thinking about third and fourth set. I didn't play poorly. You know, Jo came up with amazing shots in the critical points, especially on all three match points that I had he played great points.

I, you know, could have done of course something differently. Could have played some shots differently and pick different spots. But the way I was playing them, I didn't choose any bad shots or that I played bad points.

Just kept going with it. Sticked with my plan and stayed mentally tough and was very difficult day. Very demanding. Very, very hot, and of course a lot on the line for the match. Obviously with emotions and mentally was very exhausting.

So at the fifth set I was, you know, of course feeling a bit tired, but I was able to go through it.

Q. People who win Grand Slams say the hardest thing to do is come back and defend a Grand Slam. You're deep in the tournament now, so you must feel a certain amount of pride and relief to come this far even as a defending champion.

MARIN CILIC: Yeah, I would say the word "pride." I wouldn't pick the word "relief" in there. I came to the tournament knowing that I can play well here, that I, you know, just need few matches to get into the rhythm, and that's what happened.

I was feeling that, you know, I was starting to hit the ball much better. In the previous match with Chardy I finished with the third and fourth set really strongly. I was playing really good tennis.

Today, to beat Jo with, you know, a demanding day like this, it's of course a huge accomplishment.

Q. Also he's a very popular guy. How did you manage to steal the crowd away from him?

MARIN CILIC: Well, I don't think I stole the crowd. As, you know, they were of course forcing -- they want to see longer match obviously. That's always like it is.

I didn't mind, actually, them cheering for Jo. In the third set, when he won the third and especially when he held his serve to stay in the match when I had some match points, I just kept my coolness.

You know, at the end I used a little bit of emotions to pump the crowd at, you know, critical points. But I was, again, you know, in front and they were cheering again for Jo, but that's absolutely normal. It was great, great atmosphere. I really enjoyed the match.

Q. How would you describe the respect that you have had coming back as a defending champion? Is it maybe less because we still have those named players: Federer and Nadal and Djokovic back, and you're still somebody who isn't as well known?
MARIN CILIC: Well, I felt that it was huge respect from even the tournament and people around and players around. I really felt that, you know, I'm coming differently to the tournament and I'm feeling differently.

You know, the things are set up completely different. I played several matches on the stadium, Arthur Ashe Stadium, and that, I think, there is no bad points, anything about it.

You know, just enjoying to play here.

Q. How does the absence at this stage of the tournament of Rafa and Andy Murray affect your chances, do you think?
MARIN CILIC: I don't think that matters much. Of course they are great players, but, still, you've got in the draw the guys who play the best these last 10 days. Obviously all of them have deserved their spot to be here.

You know, the names that are most of the time circling around. They are of course the best players. You know that they can play the best at most consistent time.

But, you know, these guys that are left in the tournament, they are very dangerous, can. They play well. There is Stan, there is Roger still in, Novak; even Anderson is playing great tennis.

So it's, you know, open field.

Q. Five sets. The ankle is doing okay?
MARIN CILIC: Yeah. Yeah, the ankle is doing okay. I was a bit scared after the match with Chardy, but it's all right. It's great to have also two more days until semis, actually three days.

Yeah, I think it's going to be okay.

Q. You sliced some dropshots at some critical moments. Were you trying to get him to move a lot because of his knee?
MARIN CILIC: I actually didn't plan that before the points or, you know, that I had that in the game. With Jo it's tough to get opportunities to, you know, play some dropshots.

I actually played a couple that were very critical at the end of the match, and obviously he had some problems with his knee. I felt his serve in the third set went down a bit with the speed.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to break him, but afterwards he was serving big, and I didn't see, you know, that it was causing too much trouble for him. Of course he wasn't at the best shape, but, you know, I was trying to think about myself more.

Q. Today was one of the hottest days of the tournament, maybe the hottest day. How did you deal with that out on the court for a long match, five sets? Did you feel okay physically in that way?
MARIN CILIC: It was very demanding. As I mentioned, very difficult match psychologically, as well. Two sets to up -- two sets to zero -- I lost my words. I don't know what I'm talking anymore. (Smiling.)

To lose the fourth set like that after three-and-a-half hours, whatever, it was very, very difficult. Extremely tough conditions today.

Q. Speaking of psychologically demanding, I know you have a younger brother who plays tennis. Can you imagine one day playing him on a stadium like this the way Venus and Serena are doing now?
MARIN CILIC: Actually, I was mentioning that to my team in the locker room. We saw the girls coming out on the court, and I said, I can't imagine myself playing against my brother. That would be very difficult.

But, you know, it would be absolutely nice with me that he would be on the tour. You know, I would be more proud about him than myself.

Q. You're a quiet, introverted guy; Jo is a showman. Do you really care how involved the crowd is or how they support you? Do you think about this during the match? Do you think, Gee, they aren't really behind me or they are behind me, for the other guy, not for the other guy? What goes through your mind about that?
MARIN CILIC: It doesn't really affect me. At most times when player is affected about these things is when he's nervous or under stress or he's down with the score or, you know, when things are not going his way.

And for me, I really don't mind. Of course, I can have some tough days during the year that it would, you know, cause some provocation to me, but most of the time, 99% of the time, I really don't mind.

I'm just focused on myself and trying to play.

Q. It didn't affect you during the third or fourth set, for instance, when you were under stress?
MARIN CILIC: No. No, I mean, I'm aware that, you know, the crowd wants to see more tennis. I was, you know, in a similar situation several years ago when I played here. I played Novak and, you know, I was down with the score and then, you know, the crowd was cheering for me.

So, you know, it goes around.

Q. You mentioned thinking it would be difficult to play your brother. What do you think is so difficult about that, Serena and Venus? What's difficult about that? And the second part of the question is: What's been your perspective of Serena Williams over the past, five, ten years since you have been involved in the sport?
MARIN CILIC: Well, the most difficult part when you're playing somebody that close is your emotions on the court. Everything is great, you know, when the score is going great in your favor. You're keeping your coolness.

You know, the tough part is when the score is not going in your favor and you need to do something. It's difficult, you know, to be angry, to show emotions, to be either overjoyed or show, like, bad emotions, you know, when you are playing somebody that close.

That's I think the biggest difficulty there is. You have to sort of be like more quiet. You're not gonna celebrate the points as much and you're not going to go fist pumping to somebody from your family.

And for the other question, you know, as everybody knows that, they have changed the tennis, and especially Serena in last several years. She's showing that she can change history, and then I think she can also, by achieving -- you know, if she wins this year, by achieving the Grand Slam, she can help the next generations to be more motivated and to try to hunt her with the Grand Slam titles.

Q. The handshake with Jo wasn't quite warm. I was wondering if you knew why. And if so, how do you see the next match? Could be Novak again.
MARIN CILIC: Yeah, I was surprised, actually. I don't know. I really don't know why.

But, you know, Jo shook my hand, and said, Congratulations. But that was it. I don't know for the rest. If I provoke him or not I have no idea. I hope not.

And for Novak, if it's gonna be him in the semis, definitely toughest match for me, toughest matchup, I would say. I haven't beaten him ever in my career. I had close matches last few years, but I haven't found the right formula to be able to win a match.

We will see. Trying to approach every match as a new one. You know, of course when you look at the statistic that he won that many matches against me, doesn't, you know, go in my favor, absolutely.

But when you're coming to the match it's always going from zero, so it's a new match. It's different stage, and I'm feeling good here on the court.