Outside of Croatia making the Davis Cup Final last month (losing to Russia) and Pavić/Mektić cleaning up the doubles scene in 2021, there hasn’t been much to discuss in Croatian singles tennis lately.
Now, 2014 U.S. Open champion, Marin Čilić, is trying to make his first 4th Round appearance since the 2020 Australian Open. In his way, another Russian.
Čilić has had his fair share of Russians in the past few months. He lost to world #2 Daniil Medvedev 7-6, 6-2 in the Davis Cup finals on December 5th. Čilić then lost to world #28 Karen Kachanov 7-6, 6-3 in the semis of the Adelaide tournament on January 3rd. On Saturday, Čilić will face another Russian, #5 Andrey Rublev, in the Australian Open Round of 32. Čilić has only dropped one set in his first two matches (both against qualifiers) and should be considered fresh.
Čilić is 1-4 all-time versus Rublev and has lost four straight (all on hard court). If the 2018 Australian Open finalist is to spark a late resurgence in the twilight of his career, now is the time.