‘Incredible guy’ – Marin Cilic praises Andrey Rublev and ‘his great sportsmanship’
Former US Open champion Marin Cilic has said he is “incredibly proud” to have reached the semi-finals of the French Open before crediting Andrey Rublev for showing “great sportsmanship” mid-match.
The 33-year-old Croatian dug deep to reach the last four of the French Open for the first time as he sealed a 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(10-2) victory.
The victory meant that Cilic is just the fifth active player to reach semi-finals of all four Grand Slams, alongside Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
Although Cilic saw a match point opportunity slip away when Rublev was serving at 4-5, 30/40 in the fifth set, the 20th seed regained his composure as dominated the final-set tie-break as he stepped into court to strike a series of searing winners.
During the emotionally charged deciding set, Marin Cilic was perplexed and left frustrated after having a shot called out by the umpire – only for Andrey Rublev to concede the point to the Croatian.
Speaking exclusively to Eurosport, Cilic said he was elated to reach the final four as well as praise Andrey Rublev for his act of generosity.
“I’m unbelievably proud,” he said. “Today was a tough day in the office and playing against Andrey is really a tough thing to do. Today was slightly different conditions to two days ago.
“It was a little bit harder in that the ball was not bouncing as much. Then it was not easy to open up the court and use the top spin. Luckily today I was serving fantastically well.
“I kept my focus today. It was not easy after losing that fourth set. He was really close to breaking a couple of games but I just kept my head down and put it in.
“I had some flashes in the last several years. A few years when I was playing incredibly well, aged 17 and 18, was incredible. I connect three, four sets but never this much in a tournament.
“I’m just trying to be myself in the court and whatever I feel on the court I just go for it.
“I’m just enjoying myself on the court and this performance and the fight. Andrey on a few occasions showed great sportsmanship and in this kind of a match every single point counts. I have to hand it to him.
“Bad luck to him, unfortunately one of us had to go down but it just shows he’s an incredible guy and an incredible player.”
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