Marin Cilic left 2018 with very positive vibes, playing in the final of the Australian Open, winning the title at Queen's where he beat Novak Djokovic and securing the Davis Cup title for Croatia in November with wins over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Lucas Pouille.
Spending the entire season in the top-10, Cilic booked the place at the ATP Finals where he beat John Isner and lost to Alexander Zverev and Novak Djokovic to end his run in the round robin stage, setting his eyes on another London appearance in 2019.
The start of the new season was not that good for the Croat, though, having to withdraw from the ATP 250 event in Pune in the opening week of the year due to a knee injury and heading to Melbourne where he entered Kooyong Classic for the first and last preparation before the start of the Australian Open on Monday.
In the opening match on Wednesday, Marin took down another top-10 star Kevin Anderson 6-3, 4-6, 15-13, bouncing back from 7-2 down in the match tie break to secure the win and give his knee the best possible test before another match he will play on Thursday against Fernando Verdasco.
Despite the win, Marin admitted he still feels a little bit rusty but he hopes to be ready for the first Grand Slam of the season and that the knee will hold on and allow him to play at his best, having to defend 1200 points after a great run at Melbourne Park in 2018, pushing Roger Federer to the limits in the title match before falling down in five sets.
"The knee felt slightly more stiff than usual, maybe that's from a first match," Cilic said. "I need a few more days to play and train and hopefully reach 100 percent. It took me some time to recover from the emotional end to last season with the Davis Cup. I'm feeling a bit rusty, but I'm hitting the ball well and feel on good form."