"I feel that I haven't reached my peak still," Marin Cilic commented to the media after winning over Felix Auger-Aliassime in 3 sets at the Paris Master opening round. The Croatian's tank might not be running thin for capturing more titles, but he'll have tough competition along the way.
He had gone on to the round of 16 when his opponent in the 2nd round, Corentin Moutet tested positive for COVID-19. He immediately had to leave the tournament but Cilic felt uplifted that he'd be just as lucky to go deep in Paris.
It didn't turn out that way. The Croatian met up with the unpredictable force of Ugo Humbert and while he lost the opening set, dug deep and won the tiebreak. The young Frenchman was in his home country and received support from countrymen in the stands helping him win the match 6-3, 6-7, 6-3.
Going into the Sofia Open gave the Croatian hope that he'd do well.
He captured his only slam title in 2014 at the U.S. Open and has over a dozen ATP singles titles. But Cilic hasn't taken into consideration that his competitors are coming younger, chic and more dynamic than they used to be.
At 32, many opponents are ten years younger despite having the titles that Cilic has accomplished over his 15 year career. He might also have taken for granted that there was a 7 month layover due to the Pandemic when hardly anyone played.
Getting back into form and being successful may not happen right away. "I was not finding my best for this season, last season, as well as compared to the last few years before," he confessed. Cilic hoped for a good performance as he landed in Bulgaria, but seems like it wasn't to be as he bowed in the opening round to the 19-year-old Czech player Jonas Forejtek 6-3, 6-2.
Cilic gave the young Czech his huge forehands and approach shots which in time many were successful but the Croatian became troubled with unforced errors later and was outsmarted by the sharp strategy of Forejtek. Marin can easily remember a few years ago ranking a career high of No.
3. He would think by now to be in the top 10. He is now ranked No. 43 and at the point of analyzing what his game used to be and what it is now. "I wouldn't say disappointed but just...I haven't...accomplished what I could have accomplished."
He captured his last title in 2018 winning the Queen's Club and yearns to work toward having another crown soon. He knows that being a top contender may just not happen, but he is still in the Sofia Open to win. He's made the quarterfinal in doubles with his partner Tomislav Brkic of Bosnia who's been on the ATP tour for 12 years and is still yearning to win a title be it singles or doubles.
It might be for Cilic to concentrate on doubles but he knows that he has to be realistic with himself and the media in saying that "When I'm finishing tournaments, if I'm losing, I'm happy to go home."