- About the tournament
Please, tells us how different is this court from the one in Moscow? The other day Andrey Rublev said that even though Moscow tournament and St. Petersburg tournament are both indoors, the surfaces are completely different. Do you agree?
I think they are very similar because both courts are on wood. The only thing that I would say is that here the court is quicker. The arena had been amazing – the one in Moscow and here. Hopefully during the week when more people arrive at the stadium it’s going to be even better.
Don’t you think that in the next match you will have to increase the percentage of your first serve? Because today you had a very comfortable win and if you are going to have tougher opponents, you will have to improve on your serve.
Of course, I agree. But today I was working with the spin of my serve. All in all, I am happy with the way my serve went. However, if I will be able to reach 60-70% on my first serve I will be very pleased.
Can you also comment on the fact that you have been coming here for over 10 years now? You mentioned on court that you won here in 2011.
Yes, I have amazing memories, in 2007 it was my first time to break into the Top100 with this tournament and in 2011 here in St. Petersburg I won the title. I remember playing here with Mikhail Youzhny in the semifinals. Now the arena became more modern but the memories I have are great.
You always play well in Russia, why so?
(laughter) Moscow and St. Petersburg are my second home and looking overall I won 4 titles in Zagreb and I won two titles in Moscow, one title in St. Petersburg, so what can I say – I just love Russia.
How St. Petersburg changed over those 10 years as you’ve been coming here?
I have to say the city has a wow-factor, the architecture is amazing! My wife’s sister is an architect and as we were on a video-call together last night, I said to them that they have to come and see it. The whole city looks like a museum – it is incredible. One of my big wishes is to come here in the summer and experience the city in summertime.
We also have a question about your foundation – the Marin Cilic Foundation. What does it mean to you, what are its functions?
My foundation means a lot to me. As a kid I was also getting a lot of help from different organizations that were supporting sport and when I got to professional tennis I had a big desire to help kids that are from underprivileged communities, from the areas where they city and the community cannot help them, their families are poor but still they possess incredible talent. So for me the real reason behind it was understanding that each kid has incredible potential, they just need opportunities. This is the main objective of the foundation. We have sports scholarships, music scholarships, also donations to schools with concentration on mathematics, chemistry, physics and informatics.
Here in Russia we have a famous book “Traveling from St. Petersburg to Moscow”, you have made the journey in the opposite direction from Moscow to St. Petersburg. Tell us how you traveled and maybe you would like to turn your impressions into prose as well?
Actually, the other day I spoke with one of the players here and he asked me – how did you come here? By train or by plane? And I said – of course, by plane, because I thought if the plane flight takes 1,5 hours, God knows how long it will take by train, after all Russia is a big country. But he told me that a train ride is only 3-4 hours, so next time I will definitely try the train.
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