Under the Patronage of H.h. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai
Marin Cilic attends the media roundtable at the Jumeirah Creekside Hotel's Cu-ba restaurant ahead of the 2019 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Tough opener.
MARIN CILIC: Definitely a tough draw. Coming here to Dubai, you have to expect that you’re going to play tough matches. Obviously from the first round, I was probably expecting to play somebody not as in the top form as Gael.
Anyway, it’s going to be tough match, tough challenge. I haven’t beaten Gael so far. On the other side, most importantly for me, I’m coming back from an injury, feeling good. That’s quite important for me. I hope this stays as long as possible, that I’m going to be injury-free for the rest of the season.
I’ve been practicing well, feeling the ball well, but now it’s the time to put that into match play and straightaway from the first point I have to be on the top, just trying to play the best I can. Even sometimes in those occasions starting a tournament like that can be beneficial. Hopefully I can go through.
Q. What about your first match, a strong one against Gael?
MARIN CILIC: I was just talking about that.
Q. Do you feel you are ready for 2019 in a good way?
MARIN CILIC: I think so. It was a little bit unfortunate for me to have a little bit of an injury in the beginning of the season now for Australian Open. I missed Rotterdam, which was on my schedule.
But generally I’ll try to play, try to maybe reduce couple tournaments in this year. Great part for me is I’m not having Davis Cup this year until the end of the year, so that gives me another three, four weeks in the year that I can rest and continue to work.
Definitely a big motivation is going to play the best at the big tournaments. Grand Slams are always even extra motivation. Looking forward to continuing to play that on a great level, just to even get better in 2019 comparing to 2018, which was one of my best years looking into the consistency of results. I played three times quarters at the Grand Slams, five times also quarters or better in the Masters 1000s tournaments. Hopefully I can continue that consistent form.
Q. The matches are getting closer all around on the men’s tour. Anybody can win any round. Do you guys really feel the margins have really reduced between players, or do you think otherwise?
MARIN CILIC: I agree completely that even the guys that are ranked today in top 60, top 70, even top 100 are great players. I think generally when you look at the surface it’s sort of more or less the same throughout the year used to playing in those kind of surfaces. The tournaments are quite similar in that perspective, so the players are also improving and working on their game.
I think great part in last several years was the increase of the prize money in general terms. That helped all the players that are lower ranked, as well, to increase their team, to expand it, to have bigger support from the people on the side: coaches, physios, fitness coaches.
I think everyone is playing better and the game has evolved. On the lower levels, it’s increasing. If you are not 100%, if you’re missing just one or two percent, you can easily go out of the tournament.
Q. Regarding the shot clock on the court, do you like it or not?
MARIN CILIC: I think it’s good because we had this conversations for several years. It was tough to put something that is very consistent. Now all the players know the rules. Also the chair umpire can follow it easier. The rules are set. I think they are quite fair.
I think it also makes a little bit more extra fun for the fans. In general terms, they were talking that it didn’t shorten the matches too much, maybe in some areas got a little bit longer because the players see the clock, so they are looking not to go too fast.
I think generally it’s good.
Q. You don’t take time violations?
MARIN CILIC: I do sometimes, but working on it.
Q. What do you think about best-of-four format?
MARIN CILIC: Up to four games?
MARIN CILIC: I don’t think it would be great just looking at the parts it would take out, the situations of dropping a serve and just getting the break back, shortening the sets. I think it would just create many more tiebreaks to play. It would definitely involve a little bit more part of luck in those matches.