CroatianSoccerReport.com caught an exclusive interview with up and coming Croatian tennis player, Marin Čilić, while at the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, Ca. Wednesday. In route to the main stadium, we saw Čilić practicing on one of the outer courts with his trainer.
When the 19-year old Čilić was asked how it felt to lose to fellow Croatian, Ivan Ljubičić, in the second round of the tournament this past week he said, “What are you going to do? I would rather lose to him than some other player,” answering in his native Croatian. Čilić also said he follows the national soccer side closely but didn’t have much to say when asked about the Eduardo injury. “It is what it is; there’s not much you can do. That’s life.”
Moments later as a crowd of people swarmed around one of the practice courts to watch #1 ranked tennis player in the world, Roger Federer, warm up; we met up with Ljubičić while he got ready for the match. He looked very strong on his 29th birthday. He was hitting the ball very well and looked quite focused to challenge the world’s best. All Ivan had to say as he left the court was that he felt very good.
During the 4th round match, Ljubičić was serving very hard. He hit as high as 136 m.p.h on the gun but was still broken in the 1st set. He then managed to break Federer in the second but couldn’t hold his own serve twice. Federer was a step quicker that night and if that wasn’t enough was also hitting his spots with ease- but what else is new? Federer beat #23 Ljubičić in straight sets 6-3,6-4.
There was an extremely nice gesture by Federer who after the match had a cake brought out to center court in celebration of Ljubičić’s birthday. The 10,000 or so fans that were left in the stands all sang Ivan Happy Birthday- but I’m sure Ivan wanted the win even more as a gift to himself.
Next year I would like to get a large group of Croatians together who live in the LA area and make the 2-hour drive to Palm Springs for this tournament. Ančić, Čilić, Karlović and Ljubičić should all be back next year. It was summer-come-early weather and the entire atmosphere of the tournament was very pleasant.
Croatians have the best soccer fans; so let’s show the world we can do the tennis thing too.
Next Stop—-MIAMI for the Sony Ericsson Open next week.