Improving Marin Cilic ready for Andy Murray quarter-final at the US Open
When Andy Murray beat Marin Cilic in the semi-finals of the Australian Open in 2010 it seemed like it would be the first of many meetings at the latter stages of grand slams.
Murray was already a grand slam finalist while Cilic was a 21-year-old rising star who would end the tournament ranked in the top 10.
But, when they face each in the quarter-finals of the US Open later today, it will be Cilic's first appearance in the last eight of a grand slam since that day in Melbourne.
Instead of kicking on, the quiet Croatian with the huge game struggled for form and confidence and has spent much of the last two years battling to stay in the top 30.
But this year has seen Cilic, now 23, climbing back up the rankings to his current position of 13th, and he was all smiles after beating Martin Klizan in straight sets yesterday.
The Croatian said: "I'm very, very happy and thrilled to be back in the quarters.
"The last two seasons since playing semis at the Australian Open, I've been having a lack of results at the grand slams. This just shows I had a really good summer. I think what helped me the most was playing also a lot of matches. I won two titles."
Cilic was the man handed the AEGON Championships title at Queen's Club after David Nalbandian's moment of madness, while he was also the winner on clay in Umag.
He admitted to some tough moments over the last couple of years but feels he has come out of the period a more rounded player.
Cilic said: "You always have doubts when you are losing matches that you don't want to lose. In a way it was tough for me, but in another way it was also a positive thing as I learned from those situations.
"I have had different experiences now. I was in the top 10, played great tennis, dropped, and now I'm coming back to where I feel I can be.
"I have a different understanding that I have to just focus on myself and focus on the right things and not bother about too many other things, which in the past I was having trouble with."
It will be their eighth meeting, with Murray having won six times but been beaten in straight sets in a fourth-round match at Flushing Meadows in 2009, Cilic's only previous time in the last eight.
Their most recent match was in the fourth round at Wimbledon, where Murray served superbly and pulled away from his opponent after a close first set.
Cilic added: "Generally we've had a lot of close matches. But I know he's really tough for me to play. It's tough sometimes to find some openings. But, when I'm playing well, when I feel good, I feel I can match up with anybody."
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