- About the tournament
Marin, at 1-3 in the third it was not hopeless yet not very promising for you and Taylor Fritz said that he had an issue with himself – he was playing on key points not to lose but he should have played to win. Do you think he was too conservative especially in the rallies, waiting for your error?
I did not feel that kind of way, I think he played great tennis somewhere from 3/20 in the second set to the middle of the third set. He was serving great and also hitting a lot of returns back, not missing from the baseline and playing very aggressive. It was difficult at some stage to win my service games which was a rare occasion during this week. And I said to myself – ok, I am going to try to keep going and try to up my game to another level and see if I can keep it up with him. And did not feel that he reduced with his speed. Points clicked into my favor a little bit on that point.
Can you compare your final match 10 years ago against Janko Tipsarević with this one?
It was also a very close one. I remember the match and I think I have played almost every match in that tournament in 3 sets. I did not think about it before today, my level the whole week was really good and yesterday I played a good match. And it was a bit similar today. Of course I have missed some opportunities serving in the first set and then Taylor started to play better, I knew I could level up my game a little bit. But this is still a great achievement from my mental balance – playing my 10th match in a row with a fantastic attitude.
They keep talking about the new generation but judging from the game you have showed today you are not going to give in to Next Gen yet. Do you have plans to return to the top-5 or even top-3?
My plans are to keep pushing myself and keep training hard to give myself opportunity to win great tournaments again and keep playing against the guys at the very top. Who knows where it will take me, but these two tournaments in Russia are a great start for me. And playing this great at the end of the season is a boost for my confidence it is going to give me a lot of belief in my game.
You won two titles in Moscow, you won two titles here in St. Petersburg and to use soccer term are you going to pull a hat-trick here?
It would be a dream come true being here again, I enjoyed this week so much. I would love coming back.
Would you be interested in maybe playing a tennis match at a big stadium like this?
If it is full ‘yes’, but if there will be few thousand people it will feel empty. Who know what the future can bring? What kind of events? In Croatia, for example, I’m organizing my charity like multi-sport event. All the athletes from different sports play tennis tournament in doubles. Even Dejan Lovren, Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic, the top guys played there. It was full capacity of the stadiums but you know, the small stadiums. I think that such kind of events can feel the bigger crowd.
Lovren picked up a tennis racket?
He did. And he played in the semis of the tournament.
Marin, was cheering himself with the word ‘tsar’ in Croatian. Does it mean the same as in Russian or have another meaning?
The same. (smiling)
Do you know it is your 20th career title and you are the 6th among active players to reach this number? What do you think about this?
I know I have 20 but I didn’t know I am among the 6 players. It feels amazing for me to have such a long streak of wining tournaments. It started back in 2008. I was wining every single season a tournament until 2019, so I had a break 2019-2020. And now this year, in 2021, I won two titles and it is just amazing for me to have every single season a great result.
10 years is a long distance. If you compare yourself to 10 years ago and now what new qualities you acquire throughout this decade? And what has changed in tennis overall for this period of time?
I definitely improved my game in every aspect from serve, forehand, backhand, everything, I improved my physical abilities also. I also, you know, with experience and with playing a lot I learn what works for me and what doesn’t. Obviously, it helped to me this week: how I can play my best tennis and how I can give myself the best opportunity to win. So, that is the bottom line. And what changed in tennis? I think for me looking at the new generation players they are playing very aggressive tennis, hitting very big great serves, moving great and I think it is a little bit different compared when I came onto the tour there were different type of players. There is a little bit smaller group of differences. And so I lot of young players are playing very similar, they used to be much more variety in the games.
We saw you hitting the ball many-many times up against the floor – is it because you felt some special nervousness?
Or maybe it was because you were the runner-up for the Kremlin Cup and, according to the tradition, Kremlin Cup runner-ups lose in the final, and you broke this tradition – did you know that?
No, I did not know that. It is just a routine, bouncing more balls to focus because I need a little bit more time. As far as the tradition goes – well, there is always a first in everything. But I am glad I broke that tradition.
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