Marin Cilic believes that Roger Federer is the third favorite to win the French Open after Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. "Looking at the results and consistency, you have to include Roger, he is a favorite to win in every tournament.
Dominic Thiem played unbelievably well in Paris and he reached two finals in the last two seasons, he is one of the best as well but I would put Roger ahead of him," said the Croatian player. He also backed the new Davis Cup format: "I think it could very good and interesting.
I think that playing it in Spain is a good thing because I think Rafa will play and that will attract many fans and it will bring a special environment to the matches. We will miss the home atmosphere, the unbelievable environment you were playing in, but it will be equally interesting."
On Nadal, Cilic added: "I think he evolved as a player. Looking at him physically, he may have lost some speed compared to the first years in his career, I would not say he is as fast as before but I think his serve and backhand improved a lot.
His forehand is a key part in his game and he deals with topspin and power very well. Playing him is definitely different now. You have to be at the top in defence to face him." Cilic commented about his compatriot Ivan Ljubicic's impact on Federer's game.
The former world no. 3 started working with the Swiss at the end of the 2015 season. "A big change in his game happened when Ljubicic joined his team, he brought some consistency and he helped him improving his backhand, which grew a lot.
He is also more positive, during the matches he shows more emotions," said Cilic. On the evolution of his own game, the 30-year-old added: "I do not think I lost speed. I became stronger in all the parts of my body and I have no issues apart from the knee, that has been my biggest weaknesses since when I started playing tennis and it's not easy to deal with it, as Rafa shows."
Is it the same problem as Nadal? "I do not know. But I physically feel well and I have to look at my schedule too and plan enough rest and preparation. This is how I can keep competing for a longer time." Cilic lost in his opening round of the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters to Guido Pella on Tuesday.