It seems a lifetime ago that Marin Cilic was a champion at Flushing Meadows. Last year the Croat picked up his first Masters 1000 title seeing off Berdych, Verdasco, Coric, Dimitrov and of course Murray on route to his win in Cincinnati but this year it hasn’t happened for him but why is that?
I say it time and time again tennis moves on and I think back to that US Open final and compare it with matches this year and his game is still at the same level and that level isn’t good enough. No one is going to convince me just because he won a Masters title last year then he’s taken big strides.
To be four months into the season and have a win/loss of 5-7, remarkable be sat still at 8th in the world but in the Race to London with just 6 months of tennis left he is sat at 41 so a year which was meant to be a step up has quickly turned into a fight to regain form and getting to London has to be the main priority. So what needs adapting in his game?
Can you under think?
Sometimes you can say a player is over-thinking a shot and has too much time but can you under think a shot and have too much time?
Cilic’ game is quite predictable. Predictability is not a bad thing especially as it has propelled him to being a top 10 player but how to go that step further? You don’t need to remove it but give yourself options and something for opponents to think about.
A Cilic rally is usually serve down the T followed by a slice return down the middle and then he will look for that inside-out forehand cross court but why not go for that inside-in forehand down the line.
Just look at this. Inside-in is on, out is on but Dan is anticipating this, his body is on the move already. Inside-in gives Cilic more time and he has lined up the forehand well enough for the option so why not mix it up more?
At the same time the backhand is slightly different. This is to do with the body position so let’s have a look!
With this position there is just one place the backhand is going and that is cross court. There isn’t much threat or variety off the shot but because of his height he could step a tiny bit back and with both leg’s straight can have more of a swing behind the backhand similar to Murray and Djokovic with that steady position and then the down the line and cross court flat backhand is on!
From now until Roland Garros he has about 150 points to defend after missing Monte-Carlo, Rome and Madrid last year so he must get wins under his belt.
Screenshots credit to the Australian Open