2017 French Open player profile: Marin Cilic

2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic has struggled for form in 2017. The Croat ended his three-year partnership with compatriot Goran Ivanisevic last July. Nonetheless, Cilic quickly appointed Jonas Bjorkman as his new coach, the following month. The partnership started off well as Cilic won his first Masters 1000 title at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati last August. The 28-year-old returns to the French Open, where he lost in the first round last year, and he will be hoping that his fortunes at Roland Garros improve in 2017.

Notable results to date

The world number eight has a 14-10 win-loss record. He also reached a milestone in 2017 as he recorded his 400th win on tour at the Istanbul Open. He followed in the footsteps of his compatriots Ivanisevic and Ivan Ljubicic in winning 400+ matches. Cilic had a poor start in 2017 losing to Jozef Kovalik in the second round in Chennai. He recovered from two sets to love down to defeat Jerzy Janowicz in five sets at the Australian Open to win his first match of the year. The Croat reached the semifinals in Melbourne in 2010, and he suffered a disappointing second round exit to Dan Evans in four sets. Cilic's fortunes slightly improved but he lost to Dustin Brown in his opening round match in Montpellier. However, he reached his first quarterfinal of the year in Rotterdam, battling past Benoit Paire and Borna Coric but lost to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in two tiebreak sets.

The 2014 US Open champion advanced to his first semifinal of the year in Acapulco, but he was thrashed by former world number one Rafael Nadal in straight sets. Cilic's woes on hard courts continued as he failed to win a match at the back-to-back North American Masters 1000 hard court events. Taylor Fritz sent him packing in three sets in Indian Wells, and Jeremy Chardy did the same in Miami in three sets.

Cilic had a poor run at the first Grand Slam tournament of the year (Photo by Quinn Rooney / Getty)
Cilic had a poor run at the first Grand Slam tournament of the year (Photo by Quinn Rooney / Getty)

Clay Court results leading up to Roland Garros

It was time for the former world number six to transition from hard courts to his weakest surface on clay. Nonetheless, his clay court season got off to a flying start at the first of three clay Masters 1000 clay court events beginning at the Monte Carlo Masters. He gained his revenge over Chardy in the second round in Monte Carlo and eased past Tomas Berdych in the third round to reach the quarterfinals. However, Cilic lost to Albert Ramos Vinolas in the quarterfinals despite leading 2-0 in the final set. He lost six consecutive games on the bounce in that set, and the Spaniard went on to reach his first Masters 1000 final. The Croat then competed in Istanbul, where he won his first title of the year.

He defeated Damir Dzumhur in the second round, and he defeated Steve Darcis in the quarterfinals to win his 400th singles match on the ATP World Tour. Cilic defeated Diego Schwartzman and Milos Raonic in the semifinals and final respectively in straight sets to clinch his second clay court title. The Croat was unable to back up his successful week in Istanbul at the Mutua Madrid Open. Alexander Zverev sent him packing in the second round in three sets. Once again, Cilic's improved form on the clay continued at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome. Cilic dispatched Ryan Harrison and David Goffin in straight sets but lost to John Isner in a three-set encounter in the quarterfinals.

The Croat's clay court season has been good for his standards (Source: NurPhoto)
The Croat's clay court season has been good for his standards (Source: NurPhoto)


Best French Open result

The world number eight has reached the fourth round of the French Open on three occasions in 2009, 2010 and 2015.

Cilic advanced to the second week in Paris as the 13th seed in 2009. He defeated Jan Hernych, Dudi Sela and Radek Stepanek in straight sets but lost to Andy Murray, 7-5, 7-6 (4), 6-1 in the fourth round. For the second successive year, Cilic advanced to the fourth round as the tenth seed. The Croat dispatched Brazilian, Ricardo Mello in the first round in four sets. In the second round, Cilic cruised past Spain's Daniel Gimeno-Traver in straight sets. However, the Croat had a five-set thriller against Leonardo Mayer in the third round. Nonetheless, he dispatched the Argentine, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-4. Cilic was unable to get into the quarterfinals for the first time as two-time finalist Robin Soderling defeated him, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2. The former world number six had to wait another five years to reach the second week at Roland Garros in 2015. Cilic dispatched Robin Haase, Italian qualifier Andrea Arnaboldi and Mayer with little trouble in his opening three rounds. Unfortunately, for the third time at the French Open, Cilic was unable to win a set in his fourth round matches as he succumbed to 2013 finalist David Ferrer in straight sets.


The Croat lost to Robin Soderling in his second, fourth round appearing at Roland Garros in 2010 (Photo by Julian Finney / Getty)
The Croat lost to Robin Soderling in his second, fourth round appearing at Roland Garros in 2010 (Photo by Julian Finney / Getty)

How Cilic's game translates to the surface

The Croat's serve has significantly improved since he was under the tutelage of Goran Ivanisevic. He has a two-handed backhand, and he is an offensive baseliner. Cilic also possesses powerful groundstrokes, and his forehand is more devastating than his backhand. Despite, standing at 6'6, Cilic's movement is very good on hard courts and grass courts, and not too bad on clay. However, Cilic sometimes struggle with the low bounce on clay as he has to move down low to retrieve the ball. The Croat's power game is more suited to his favoured hard and grass courts but he can still pose problems on clay. The Croat will be seeded seventh at this year's French Open due to 2009 champion Roger Federer's withdrawal.