In what is considered by many a fairly open Men’s Singles draw at Wimbledon this year, one of the potential contenders could be seventh seed Marin Cilic, a former US Open winner who has made the quarterfinals at the All England Club the past three years.
The Croatian has had a mixed season to date, though has improved in the past couple of months from his early season form and his previous experience of winning a Grand Slam, as well as his big game which is suited to the grass, could make him one to watch.
2017 results before the grass court season
The season got off to a worryingly slow start for the Croatian, though things did pick up for him ahead of the grass court season.
Cilic lost in the second round in Chennai in his opening tournament of the year and then fell in the second round at the Australian Open to Dan Evans. He then suffered a third consecutive second round defeat in Marseille, to Dustin Brown, though then had a slight pick-up in form in Monterrey, where he reached the semifinals. However, he then proceeded to fall in his opening matches in both Indian Wells and Miami.
However, despite it usually being a weak part of the season for him, Cilic gained some form on clay. He won his first title of the season, and 17th of his career, in Istanbul where he beat defending champion Diego Schwartzman in the last four before beating Milos Raonic in the final. Though he then suffered another early loss in Madrid, he reached the last eight in Rome before reaching the last eight at the French Open for the first time, beating the likes of Feliciano Lopez and Kevin Anderson before falling to eventual runner-up Stan Wawrinka.
Grass court season
Heading into the third Grand Slam tournament of the year, Cilic has had a fairly good grass court build-up, but will perhaps be disappointed at his losses.
Cilic started his grass court season at the Ricoh Open in the Netherlands, where he was the top seed for the tournament. The Croat beat Janko Tipsarevic from a set down and then saw off qualifier Vasek Pospisil to reach the last four, though he fell at that stage to countryman and third seed Ivo Karlovic in a final set tiebreak, in what would have been a tough loss for the man who won the US Open three years ago.
Following his loss there, Cilic moved onto the Aegon Championships at the Queen’s Club, where he won the title in 2012 and reached the final the following year. Seeded fourth, he beat John Isner, qualifier Stefan Kozlov, and Donald Young to reach the semifinal without dropping a set, before battling past Gilles Muller in three sets to make the final. There, he suffered other tight loss, leading by a set and having a match point before losing to Feliciano Lopez in a final set tiebreak.
Best Wimbledon result
Cilic has played well at Wimbledon in the past, reaching the quarterfinals in the past three years, though is yet to make the last four.
Back in 2014, Cilic was seeded 26th after missing a few months due to a doping ban, though punched well above his weight. He beat Paul-Henri Mathieu and Andreas Haider-Maurer, both in four sets, to make the third round, where he upset sixth seed Tomas Berdych in straight sets. He then beat Jeremy Chardy in straight sets to reach his maiden quarterfinal, where he fell to eventual champion and top seed Novak Djokovic in a five-set thriller.
The following year, Cilic was seeded ninth after having won his US Open title, and beat qualifier Hiroki Moriya in his opening round, before battling past both Ricardas Berankis and 17th seed John Isner in five sets to make the second week, where he then saw off wildcard Denis Kudla in four sets to make the last eight once again. However, he then fell to Djokovic for the second year in a row, this time in straight sets.
Last year, the Croatian was once again seeded ninth and saw off Brian Baker in his opening round encounter, before beating Sergiy Stakhovsky in four sets and qualifier Lukas Lacko in three sets to once again make the fourth round. There, he was a set and a double break up in the second set when fifth seed Kei Nishikori retired, before he suffered a heartbreaking loss to third seed Roger Federer, losing despite being two sets up and having three match points in the fourth set tiebreak.
Though he didn’t get off to the greatest start this season, Cilic’s results on the clay courts and then the grass show some improvement in form, and he’ll be undoubtedly confident heading into what has been a fairly strong tournament for him in recent years. If he plays well, there is no reason why he won’t be able to go deep into the tournament.