Cilic credits relaxed approach for U.S. Open triumph

Tue Sep 9, 2014 4:53pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - (Please note Cilic's strong language in paragraph seven)

Winning the U.S. Open was an out-of-this-world thrill for Marin Cilic, who gives a lot of credit to Croatian tennis pioneer and coach Goran Ivanisevic for guiding him to grand slam glory.

"It's life changing, completely like I was on a different planet so far," Cilic told a small group of reporters after a long night of celebration following his Monday triumph. "It just feels incredible.

"Croatia was crazy time yesterday it was a huge celebration. Also my hometown Zagreb, the whole country was watching," he added, noting he had received some 250 messages on his phone from back home and had not even yet checked Twitter or Facebook.

The towering, 6-foot-6 (1.98 m) Cilic, who routed Japan's Kei Nishikori in straight sets, said he went from promising yet frustrated tennis talent to grand slam winner with the help of his boyhood idol, the irreverent Ivanisevic.

Cilic said Ivanisevic, who rode a blistering serve to the 2001 Wimbledon title, straightened out his own booming service delivery and his doubtful mindset by simplifying things and stressing fun and enjoyment on the court.

The Croat was asked if Ivanisevic had any words of wisdom for him before his first grand slam final.   Continued...

Marin Cilic of Croatia kisses his U.S. Open tennis tournament trophy at the Top of the Rock Observation Deck at Rockefeller Center during a media photo opportunity in New York, September 9, 2014.  REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton