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Marin Cilic Q&A: Picking Fed For No. 1

Player Q&A

Nieminen© AFP/Getty ImagesMarin Cilic defeated Juan Carlos Ferrero to reach the third round.

World No. 24 Marin Cilic set a third-round clash with Juan Martin del Potro after beating 2003 champion Juan Carlos Ferrero on Wednesday at Roland Garros. Afterwards, the Croatian caught up with to give his prediction for this season’s year-end World No. 1 and his thoughts on Croatia’s chances at the European Championships.

A strong win for you today, beating former champion Juan Carlos Ferrero in straight sets, you must be really pleased with that?
I am, especially with the way I started and then was one break down and came back after that. The first set wasn’t easy just finding my rhythm there and finding the right game plan to play against him. After that first set I was pushing even more to that direction I was playing. I think he wasn’t completely sure what to do on the court. It helped me to know that all the things I’m doing are right.

You’ve had some good results at Roland Garros. You won the juniors, you’ve been to the fourth round twice; how do you enjoy playing at Roland Garros?
I always enjoy it when the weather is really good, so I’m sort of connected to that. When it’s warm the conditions are a little bit quicker, the ball is bouncing more and that always suits me for my game. Here at Roland Garros, the courts are, I would say, the best in the world on clay. I always enjoy playing here.

And are you enjoying Paris as a city?
Yeah, always when you have good company any city is always nice. But especially Paris.

It was a difficult start to the year for you when you were injured. But you’ve had some good results lately, reaching the final in Munich. How would you say the season is progressing?
I’m really pleased. I was even looking at my injury as it could be a good thing for me, that I took a break and could gather my thoughts to see what I was doing before really good and what was helping me. Now I think I’m in a good way. I played well in the clay-court season, had a lot of matches and I’m just happy with that. I’m enjoying my tennis again. Enjoying my time on the court and fighting well. That’s always pleasing me.

The top of men’s tennis is so strong at the moment, who do you see finishing No. 1 this year?
Roger [Federer] has the best chance there. At the end of last year he took a lot of points, a lot of wins in a row and is now playing well. Of course, at Wimbledon, he’s always going to be a contender to win and he’s always playing well here. I think he’s got a good chance to get there.

And for the rest of the players on tour, does their success present a challenge for you or is it an inspiration to try and reach their level?
It’s a big challenge as you have those guys who have been there already several years. They are not backing off. For us, and for me especially, it’s a bit challenge not only mentally, but really also physically as their game is on a big physical level. It’s really intensive as you could see, for example, Djokovic was playing Murray in the Australian Open semi-finals then played Nadal again for five hours in the final. So you have to be really good physically to be able to play with them.

The European Championships are coming up. Croatia is in a tough group with Italy and Spain. Are you going to be following it? How do you think they are going to do?
Yeah, definitely. We play first game against Republic of Ireland and that’s going to be the decisive game for us. Definitely, if we do well in that one, we always have a good chance to come through. Hopefully they can enjoy it there and play well. They haven’t had the best qualifying in the history of our Croatian football and they were struggling a bit, but hopefully they’re going to find a good spirit to enjoy it there.

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