They say nice guys finish last but not in Marin Cilic’s book.
The 2014 US Open champion is one of just three men – alongside Juan Martin del Potro and Stan Wawrinka – who have managed to break through the ‘Big Four’s’ stranglehold on titles in the last 49 Grand Slam tournaments.
Cilic, who is looking to claim a second major trophy on Sunday when he faces Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final, is often told he’s too nice for the cut-throat world of professional individual sport. The soft-spoken Croatian has been working with his coach Jonas Bjorkman on being more intimidating on the court during matches.
READ: Interview with Cilic’s coach Jonas Bjorkman
Does the 28-year-old find himself mean enough now to overcome Federer?
“I’m still a nice guy on the court, too, I believe. You should ask players around,” said Cilic with a smile.
“For me, obviously people are asking always, Do you need to be more arrogant? Do you need to be more angry on the court, to be more selfish or stuff like that, to be able to win more constantly?
“For me, I wouldn’t agree. There is not one formula for that. I feel obviously that emotions are very important on the court, especially in my own case where I am from a quiet nature. I try to, with Jonas, with my team, lift that up, lift that spirit up. I believe that’s helping me to play a little bit freer.”
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Cilic is knocking on the door of history once again, as he attempts to become just the second Croatian player – man or woman – to win a Wimbledon singles trophy. He has shown incredible mental toughness during his matches en route to the final – something he says he is most proud of this fortnight – and will be looking to claim just a second career win over Federer in eight meetings against one another.
How much would this title mean to Cilic?
“It would mean absolutely a world to me. I feel that when I won the US Open in ’14, it just opened so many possibilities in my mind for the rest of my career. To be able to do it again would definitely mean, I would say, even more because I know how much it meant for me to win that first one,” he explained.
“It would be absolutely a dream come true to win Wimbledon here.”