Marian Cilic – “Not Having Financial Support, It Makes You Hungry”

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Marin Cilic
Marin Cilic

One of the three Grand Slam holders from Croatia, Marin Cilic hails from a city called Medjugorje which was then part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Tennis wasn’t an unusual practice in his city also none of his ancestors had picked up tennis racquets before. His parents felt the need to give their children a different lifestyle and Marin Cilic progressed ahead to execute his on-court brilliance for his bread and butter.

His parents started to make their children practice the sport of tennis. “The sacrifices my parents made for me and my brothers were huge,” Marin Cilic said. “We didn’t know too much about tennis. We just did the best we could. I remember when I was 10, 11, 12 years old, I’d come back from school and my father would be waiting for me.”

Marin Cilic
Marin Cilic

“He would drive me to practice a half-hour away, and I would practice for two-and-a-half hours while he waited. That was the routine every day. I would play 20 to 30 tournaments a year. My father would take me to those, too, every weekend. It was so time-demanding,” Marin Cilic continued.

Upon winding up his primary school education, Marin Cilic moved to the Croatian capital of Zagreb, where got a chance to get exposed to a greater level of tennis and came across the fellow players from his nation. His parents couldn’t bore his Zagreb expenses, but nevertheless, the Croatian skyscraper found out the ways to support his charming game of tennis. 

“In Zagreb, I was on my own. No one was pushing me. Looking back, it was a big responsibility to have that kind of independence at such a young age. But I think that helped me when I started playing Satellites, Futures, Challengers. It made me appreciate everything that much more. I didn’t take anything for granted,” Marin Cilic mentioned.

His arduous responsibilities at a young age developed a deep-rooted desire and respect towards his job. The past escapades of his life have made Marin Cilic a tough individual and a player. His willingness to outperform his opponents on the court was exponentially increased when he returned from his tragic nine-month ban from tennis due to testing positive for nikethamide.

Marin Cilic
The U.S. Open 2014, Champion Marin Cilic

Soon after his miserable moment in the year 2013, the maestro bounced back on the ATP circuit with a zealous spirit to reach the upper echelon of his sport. The year 2014 made all the difference in the life of Marin Cilic as he pulled off his first ever major title by defeating the Japanese Kei Nishikori in straight sets at the Flushing Meadows.

“Then came the 2014 US Open. To come back home to Croatia with the trophy meant everything,” Marian Cilic uttered. “It was insane. There were 40,000 people in my hometown, which has a population of 3,000. I never expected anything like that. It was such a huge moment for me, and was so rewarding to make so many people happy.”

Besides, all his accomplishments the Croatian tennis ace, Marin Cilic keeps his past ingrained in his head and believes in giving back to his homeland. His journey on the tennis courts have been toilsome and keeping that in mind Marin Cilic engages himself in creating the future of Croatian tennis.

Marin Cilic
Marin Cilic reached his career-high ranking of World Number three after his Australian Open 2018 final defeat to Roger Federer

“It’s been an incredible journey. Not having many options or financial support, it makes you hungry,” Marian Cilic said. “To see where I’ve come from, it’s unreal. That’s why I’ve tried to give back to the sport, to help raise money for kids in Croatia. My foundation has given me a bigger purpose.”

“If I stopped playing tennis tomorrow, I would be satisfied. I’ve done so much in my career. But what keeps me going is the feeling that I want to reach my full potential. At the end of my career, I want to know that I gave it my all,” Marin Cilic concluded.