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Cilic joins legendary group with Roland Garros semifinal

  • Matt Trollope

Marin Cilic continues to add to his glittering CV, more than a decade after making his vast tennis talents known to the world.

The 33-year-old progressed to the last four in Paris with a five-set win over No.7 seed Andrey Rublev on Wednesday, and has now reached at least the semifinals at all four major tournaments throughout his career.

The only other active players to achieve this feat? The legendary quartet of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.

“Absolutely fantastic achievement for me,” said Cilic, who faces Casper Ruud for a place in his first major final in over four years.

RUUD AWAKENING: Casper into quarters at Roland Garros

“I'm feeling great on the court, enjoying myself, being me, playing my own game. It's paying off, and just enjoying the run. 

“Obviously knew with my kind of level, with my tennis in last several years that I have been playing, if I'm finding good form, good things are always happening.”

Cilic first reached a major semifinal 12 years ago at Australian Open 2010, with his relentlessly big, clean, aggressive hitting felling Stan Wawrinka, Juan Martin del Potro and Andy Roddick in succession before Murray stopped him in the last four.

Four years later at the US Open, that same game overwhelmed Roger Federer and saw him capture his one and only major title in New York.

He next ticked Wimbledon off his semifinal list in 2017, going all the way to the final where Federer proved too strong.

But following a banner year in 2018 – Cilic reached the Australian Open final plus quarters at Roland Garros and Flushing Meadows – the Croatian tumbled outside the top 40 and failed to clear the fourth round at 12 subsequent majors. 

Cilic identifies his 6-3 6-4 6-4 semifinal win over Federer at the 2014 US Open as the best match he has ever played.

Yet many tennis observers felt he attained similar heights in his third- and fourth-round demolitions of Gilles Simon and Daniil Medvedev.

He had lost six of seven career meetings with Simon, but flattened the Frenchman for the loss of just five games; notably, the only other time he had beaten Simon was at that 2014 US Open.

Then came a 6-2 6-3 6-2 win over second seed Medvedev, during which he won 90 per cent of his first-serve points, hit 33 winners to Medvedev’s 15, and kept his unforced errors to a tidy 22.

“I really don't mind being under the (radar) or not,” he said, when asked if he had felt overlooked by the media up until this point.

“I'm just trying to use my opportunities as much as I can during my career every day, every match to give my best and when I go out of the game that I'm absolutely proud. If I do more press conferences, it's fine, yeah (smiling).

“Looking at my own career, I had some obviously huge successes and won so many things.

“But also comparing to the top guys, it was not as consistent. Had three, four seasons that were incredibly good, incredibly consistent, but I was a little bit in and out.”

That consistency seems to be returning. 

The world No.23 outsteadied Rublev in a “really emotionally draining” encounter that saw him prevail in a fifth-set tiebreak, and now turns his attention to Ruud, a player who has beaten him in their only two previous matches.

READ MORE: Nadal beats Djokovic in "unforgettable night" at Roland Garros

He has the chance to add another extraordinary line to his CV – he would complete his career set of Grand Slam finals by advancing to the title match in Paris. 

But while we in the media are happy to consider and discuss such impressive potential milestones, the veteran champion knows better.

“I'm not thinking about anything in front, too far in front. Playing match by match,” he said. 

“Guys that I'm facing now, even today, Andrey played incredible match; if I was just a touch below my level I would be going home. 

“So just keeping my head down. I've got to do my own things well.”