2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic ended his partnership with his compatriot Goran Ivanisevic who led him to his solitary Grand Slam singles title to date. Their partnership came to an end last year, and the 2001 Wimbledon champion paired up with Tomas Berdych for a short amount of time. However, despite a slow start to the year, Cilic has almost been under the tutelage of Jonas Bjorkman for a year. It has been a good partnership and the Croat's results during the clay and grass court seasons in 2017 have improved.
The 28-year-old advanced to his second Grand Slam final at Wimbledon last weekend but he was unable to stop Roger Federer from claiming a record extending the eighth title at SW19. Federer did not drop a set throughout the event but Cilic may have challenged the Swiss number one had he not suffered from a foot blister. Cilic was an emotional wreck but he should be proud of the fortnight, and he could be a threat at the US Open once again.
The former US Open champion has a 29-14 win-loss record on the ATP World Tour in 2017. It is a big turnaround for the world number six who initially struggled at the start of the new season.
Cilic reached his first quarterfinal of the year in Rotterdam, where he defeated the likes of Benoit Paire and compatriot Borna Coric in three sets. He lost to eventual champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in three sets. The Croat backed it up with a semifinal finish in Acapulco where he defeated the likes of Alexandr Dolgopolov and Coric in straight sets. He was due to face Steve Johnson in the quarterfinals but he was handed a walkover. He was soundly beaten by Rafael Nadal in the semifinals with a loss of just three games. Cilic's clay court season was a massive improvement as he reached the quarterfinals in Monte Carlo and Rome along with winning the title in Istanbul without dropping a set. He defeated Milos Raonic in the final. The Croat advanced to the quarterfinals at the French Open for the first time, completing his set of quarterfinals at every Grand Slam. The world number six had a strong grass court campaign as he lost to compatriot Ivo Karlovic in the semifinals in 's-Hertogenbosch.
He reached his second final of the year at the Queen's Club, and he was unable to win his second title there as he lost to Feliciano Lopez. Cilic's progression through to his second Grand Slam final at Wimbledon was serene. The world number six defeated the likes of Philipp Kohlschreiber, Florian Mayer, Steve Johnson and Roberto Bautista Agut to reach his fourth successive quarterfinal at SW19 without losing a single set. Cilic lost to Novak Djokovic twice and to Roger Federer in his previous quarterfinal appearances at Wimbledon. In the quarterfinals, the 28-year-old had a five-set clash with Giles Muller which he came through, and he defeated Sam Querrey in the semifinals to reach his first Wimbledon final at the 11th attempt. In the final, Cilic was upset as he was unable to compete at a high level due to a foot blister which hampered his movement. He did not retire but ultimately lost to Federer with ease in straight sets.
The Croat had a poor start to the year as he suffered second round exits in Chennai, at the Australian Open and in Montpellier where he lost to Jozef Kovalik, Dan Evans and to Daniel Brown respectively. Cilic was winless during the back-to-back Masters 1000 swing at Indian Wells and Miami. He lost to Taylor Fritz and to Jeremy Chardy, which were poor results for the former US Open champion's standards. Despite winning the first set, Cilic lost to Alexander Zverev in the second round at the Mutua Madrid Open.
The Croat has reached three finals in 2017 with his best result being his runner-up finish at Wimbledon. He managed to win his first title of the year on the clay courts in Istanbul, and he was a runner-up at the Queen's Club. Cilic's other standout results were a semifinal run in Acapulco and quarterfinal finishes at the French Open, Monte Carlo, and Rome.
The 2014 US Open champion suffered early exits in Chennai, the Australian Open, Montpellier, Indian Wells, Miami and Madrid, which would have disappointed the world number six.
Midseason Grade: B
It was a poor first three months of the season for Cilic but he surprisingly gradually improved on the clay courts. Clay is historically is the weakest surface for him but he has had plenty of success on the clay, which made him dangerous on grass. The world number six's work ethic is second to none, and Cilic along with Stan Wawrinka have managed to win a Grand Slam and a Masters 1000 title during the dominance of the Big Four who have claimed most of those coveted prizes for over a decade.
When Cilic recovers from his foot blister, and he is fully fit once again, he will be a dangerous threat on the North American hard courts. The 28-year-old has to defend 1000 points from his Western and Southern Open triumph in Cincinnati when he shocked Andy Murray in the final. Cilic suffered a surprising third round exit at the US Open to Jack Sock last year. The Croat usually goes on a deep run in the Big Apple, and he will be looking to do so once again.
Cilic's season has been a good one at the midway point as he managed to reach a Grand Slam final, reach the final at Queen's, win a title in Istanbul and gone on multiple deep runs.