Cilic: Why I Took A Wild Card Into Budapest
It has not been the best start to the 2019 ATP Tour season for Marin Cilic, who last month fell from the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings for the first time since October 2016. But the World No. 11 is confident that with more matches, starting at this week’s Hungarian Open in Budapest where he is the top seed as a wild card, his best form will come.
“Mentally, physically, [I’m] feeling good. The beginning of the season wasn’t that great for me, had some probems with the knee. Just a little bit in-and-out with my form with that and these past three, four tournaments that I played,” Cilic said. “I was looking to get into form and didn’t find it yet, but mentally I know that I’m working well, practising well and just looking to play a few matches and I know the tournament form is going to get to a good level.”
Cilic did not originally plan to compete at this ATP 250 tournament. But after losing his third consecutive match last week at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, he wanted to try to gain more rhythm, accepting a wild card into Budapest.
“I didn’t have as many matches these past couple months as I would want to so it’s a good opportunity here to play,” Cilic said. “I also saw that last year’s tournament was really good and that was [what helped] my decision.”
Cilic has accomplished plenty in his career, from reaching a career-high No. 3 in the ATP Rankings and winning 18 tour-level titles to beating 32 Top 10 opponents. But even after struggling to start the year, he remains highly motivated to work his way back.
“It comes back to a simple thing: why you play the game? I love the game. I want to do the best I can. It’s as simple as that. Coming every day to practice, it’s not easy. It’s not easy to push yourself because you have big competition on the other side. You know that the guys are also hungry, youngsters are hungry, also top guys are hungry to do well,” Cilic said. “But at the end of the day you have to be clear with yourself why you do this and what you want to achieve. For me, I want to be the best I can be and I know the process for that is a longterm process and I have to be every day dedicated and very persistent with my own goals and with my training.”
Even at 30, Cilic feels there is still room to grow. A reporter mentioned Roger Federer still competing at a high level at 37, to which Cilic joked, “I have 10 more years.”
“I’ve been around. I’ve seen a lot of guys come and go,” Cilic said. “It’s been a great journey. I’m feeling that as a player I evolved quite nicely. As a player I improved in a lot of different areas… I feel that I still have a lot of time but that I don’t. Trying to also use every day the best you can because you’re always in a fight against time. Time is ticking away and you need to do the best you can.”