Marin Cilic Image Credit: AP

Dubai: Former US Open champion Marin Cilic is pinning his hopes on a happy marriage to make up for lost time at this week’s Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Cilic, the 2014 US Open winner, married his longtime girlfriend Kristina Milkovic last April and life has given the 30-year-old a different perspective.

“Life is good. Now, I am just trying to be as good as I can, both on and off the courts,” Cilic told media after the main draw for the men’s draw of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships that gets under way from Monday.

“It is important for me to continue to progress as a player and I am definitely looking forward to another great season of tennis,” he added.

Cilic first shot into limelight while defeating Andy Murray in the fourth round at the 2009 US Open and the following year, he reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open. After winning his only Major crown in the US in 2014, Cilic ended runner-up at the 2017 Wimbledon and 2018 Australian Open, losing both times to Roger Federer.

“I had an amazing start to 2018 and the rest of the season went solid as well. It was definitely a big competition among the top players out there and it’s not easy to continue with the same form and level throughout the full season. That’s one of the challenges that tennis brings,” Cilic admitted.

“There are a lot of players out there who are competitive and also playing great. Last season, Novak [Djokovic] made a comeback and a few other guys like Roger [Federer], Rafael [Nadal], [Sascha] Zverev and [Juan Martin] Del Potro were at the top of their game. Definitely, these are challenges ahead and I am ready for this year,” he added.

Cilic’s first round opponent will be Frenchman Gael Monfils, who last week defeated Stan Wawrinka for his eighth career title at the Rotterdam Open. “It’s one of the toughest draws for me. Gael has just won Rotterdam so he must in great form. I watched a couple of matches and he played great tennis there,” Cilic said.

“I just hope I can start great especially after some problems with my knee. Hopefully, the knee will be well and I can start playing great from the beginning,” he hoped.

At the Australian Open last month, Cilic saved two match points and came back from a two-set deficit against Fernando Verdasco to advance to the fourth round, where he fell to the in-form defending Dubai champion Bautista Agut.

“I was a bit unfortunate in Australia as I wasn’t 100 per cent physically ready. I played well and motivationally, I was feeling great,” he said.

“There will always be expectations and I have a feeling that I can still play some great tennis. I want to put myself in a great position and I have to give myself the opportunity to do so. I hope I can have the same sort of opportunities for this season and next year too,” Cilic added.