Luka Modric and Marin Cilic
Luka Modric and Marin Cilic. Image Credit: Cilic Instagram

Hi guys, Marin Cilic here. I am really happy to share a new column that I will be writing at various parts of this season on the ATP Tour. I will use it to talk about my thoughts, feelings and what is going on in my life! I hope you enjoy. Welcome to ‘On Tour with Marin’.

It is last summer and I am training on the beautiful island of Korcula in Croatia. I am joined at dinner by my two good friends (and pretty good footballers) Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic. We post a picture on Instagram, joking that all we need is one more person and we can have a nice doubles match.

Last weekend, I arrived in London from Zagreb with the best feeling. What started as a funny picture on social media became so much more.

Back to Zagreb…

Just last Wednesday, I was in my happy place. What started with that funny Instagram post ended with the first edition of my foundation’s Pro-Am event, Game Set Croatia. In front of a capacity crowd, 30 of Croatia’s top athletes joined me to celebrate sport, and in doing so, we found a new way to give back to our home country.

Game Set Croatia was created so that we could take part in looking after the next generation of Croatian athletes. It can be easy to forget, but we were all the next generation at one point — young, hopeful, and desperate to play and compete. In coordination with the Marin Cilic Foundation, funds raised at this event will go towards building multi-functional sports courts for our young athletes in the most crucial regions of Croatia.

After such an amazing start, I am excited to work on this project for years to come. I will also be available if any of my sporting friends need technical advice on their strokes!

Now, I am in London. I brought with me this great feeling from Zagreb and… a new member of my coaching team! Wayne Ferreira has agreed to come along to these grass events and share his own experience from playing many years on Tour. I am really looking forward to hearing his new point of view and working on developing different areas of my game.

One match down at the Queen’s Club tournament and I am feeling good. I understand that this year hasn’t been a great one for me, but being back in Queen’s is like being home and there may be no better place to turn things around than here. I have played here every year since 2007, with two finals and two titles coming along the way.

After making the final in 2017, I went on to make the final of Wimbledon, one of my proudest achievements. Last year, I defeated Novak Djokovic to win my second Queen’s Club title. Now, it is time to defend my title here, and work on going one step further at Wimbledon. All I can do is give it my best… and perhaps hit a few more aces. I feel that the second part of the season could be a really good one.

How can I look forward to Wimbledon without looking back at Roland Garros? I may not have gone as far as I wanted this year in Paris, but watching Rafa win a remarkable 12th title is something else. He is an inspiration to all of us, and competing on Tour with someone at that level of skill and ability is a privilege.

I will sign off for now, until next time! See you in London!

(Former world number three and 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic will write exclusively for Gulf News)