Marin Cilic believes it will be a “challenge” to play Roger Federer in the second round of Roland Garros on Thursday. The Croatian had famously beaten the former World No. 1 in the 2014 US Open semifinals en route to Grand Slam glory. “It’s going to be definitely different playing in the second round than the quarters or semis of a Grand Slam tournament,” Cilic said. “I was expecting to play either the first round or second round against a seeded guy. It’s going to be a challenge for both me and also definitely for Roger, it’s not going to be easy. He hasn’t played too much.”
Federer, eighth seed this year, is playing only in his third tournament of the season after undergoing two right knee surgeries last year. He did get off to a good start in Paris, beating Denis Istomin in straight sets in the first round. “Hat down to Roger for his motivation and his level these past several years,” Cilic said.
“Absolutely when you see him playing, you don’t feel that he is almost 40 years old the way he moves, the way he hits the ball. The way he actually plays the game is still I would say one of the quickest on the Tour. No matter the age, Roger has the formula.”
Cilic is unseeded and enters the tournament at No. 47 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. “I haven’t been so much during my career in difficult situations. Everything was going more or less quite well,” he said. “I had some tough seasons, but a tough season for me was [being] ranked 20th and now I’m in this position losing first round, second round, so it also takes [a good] mentality to push through that.”
The Croatian also opened up about how is going to approach the match against the 20-time Grand Slam champion on Thursday. “In one sense, yes, I can go out there and go for it and not think too much,” he added. “But on the other hand, I’m still going to definitely be responsible with my shots, definitely play instinctively. I’m not going to go crazy. That’s my game and I’ve been always like this, just trying to focus on my own game and take this challenge as really a positive.”