Posted by gauloises1 on February 19, 2011
Marchons, marchons, Marin Cilic! You’re not going to believe this, but he actually won a match. A quarterfinal. Against Mikhail Youzhny. Let us pause for a small picspam.
Not the most comprehensive victory, but a satisfying one nonetheless. Marin said after the match that he wasn’t playing his best in the first set (which he won 6-2), but it looked pretty damn close to me; clean, confident and powerful, like the Marin of old. Youzhny picked his game up in the second set, which coincided with a dip in Marin’s first serve in particular, and for much of the third set Youzhny led by a break and looked like the better player. Marin had his chances to get back into it, but Youzhny was really playing a very clever match and retrieving brilliantly, and under the circumstances a few loose errors from Marin cost him severely.
It would have been very easy, especially for the Marin we’ve known for the last year or so who has the mental fortitude and structural integrity of a clock painted by Salvador Dali, to give up at that point. But he saved two match points on his serve at 3-5 and was rewarded when a little wobble by Youzhny let him break back as the Russian was serving for the whole shebang. He came up with the goods on his serve and in the rallies to nick the match out from under Youzhny’s nose, 7-5. And it was good.
Marin talked in his post-match interview about the importance of focussing on his own game – or trying to find his own game, as he put it; has it been down the back of the sofa for a year? – rather than whether or not he’s expected to beat his opponent and “not trying too hard for it”. That seems to go to the heart of the problem for him; trusting himself and his game enough to let it happen, not over-pressing in a frantic attempt to live up to what he feels are the expectations on him. Back-to-back victories over Berdych and Youzhny, and getting to a final, should do him the world of good. I’m excited.
Unfortunately he’s facing Robin Soderling, gunning for his second title in as many weeks. The Swede looked fairly pumped to overcome Dmitry Tursunov, who was up for it for a set and quickly faded. He’s obviously riding some major confidence at the moment and I can’t see him losing to Marin. But you never know …