The story appears on

Page A16

September 10, 2009

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Sports » Tennis

'Baby Goran' clears big hurdle

A LITTLE nudge in the right direction from his hero and Croatian countryman Goran Ivanisevic helped Marin Cilic to overcome a major hump on Tuesday.

The 20-year-old Cilic, yet another Croatian beanpole blessed with a thunderbolt serve, has long been on the verge of making his grand-slam breakthrough.

But after tripping up in the last 16 four times, he made it count on his fifth attempt by clattering past British second seed Andy Murray 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 at the US Open in New York.

"I'm feeling tremendously happy. Of course, it's the biggest result for me so far. After reaching the last 16 four times, it was a little bit of relief after I won it."

Cilic began his journey towards grand slam success more than six years ago when Ivanisevic, fresh from his triumph at Wimbledon, needed a hitting partner. A 14-year-old Cilic jumped at the chance of testing out his skills against the country's best and has never looked back.

"In 2002/2003, Goran was staying in Zagreb and practising all the time with me when he was there. He connected me with his ex-coach, Bob Brett, who I am here with," said Cilic, who watched Ivanisevic's 2001 Wimbledon victory on TV. "Goran was a great help, otherwise I wouldn't be here today. He is the one who brought tennis on a high level in Croatia and everybody looked at him as a hero."

On Monday, Murray saw just how dangerous the player dubbed "Baby Goran" could be. With his long limbs and powerful double-handed backhands, he blew away Murray from 5-5 in the first set, conceding just four more games during the rest of the two-hour, eight-minute contest.

When Cilic faces sixth seed Juan Martin del Potro across the net in the quarterfinals, fans may feel as if they are seeing double. On their bare feet, both stand tall at 1.98 meters and both will turn 21 within five days of each other later this month.

However, there is one psychological advantage the Argentine will have over Cilic - this will be the fourth time he has contested a grand slam quarterfinal.

But Cilic remained undaunted.

"I played him in (the fourth round in) Australia and I think I have my chance. If I take positive things from today...I think I have the game that can hurt him."


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend