Cilic experienced a wretched year by his standards in 2019. He started by making the 4th round at AO but suffered poor form and combined with a knee problem could not achieve any consistent results. It was the first time in 12 seasons where he failed to win a title.
Cilic at 198cms (6′ 6″) fulfils the modern trend of big serve and a big forehand that is typical of the ATP men’s game. However, he has a more well-rounded game than most other players of similar stature. Given Cilic has minimal points to defend and appears over his knee problem, I think he can cement himself back in the top 30 in 2020 once again.
Words that shape my take on him are serve, streaky, humble, nervous.
Serve: The foundation of his game is his serve, and when that is working well, he is capable of big wins.
Streaky: Cilic can have hot periods in matches where everything works well, and he can pull off exciting wins with his big weapons.
Humble: Cilic always comes across as a very ordinary, quiet person who seems to be liked by everyone in the world of tennis. There is never any drama or antics from him.
Nervous: Marin has always struck me as being anxious, particularly in big matches against opponents that either he is expected to beat or when faced off with someone like Nadal or Federer.
Likes: I always admire players who do not complain or blame others, and I’ve never seen him do this. Surprisingly for a big serve, big guy kind of game, he has an outstanding return of serve.
Dislikes: He drives me crazy when he bounces the ball repeatedly before serving. I always hope that he makes his first serve. When he plays another ball bouncer like Djokovic, I have to resist the urge to turn off the TV.
Areas for improvement: His backhand and volley while not significantly weak, do have scope for improvement. I would never say a player who has won a grand slam is weak mentally, but it has appeared that he could improve his ability to handle the significant pressure moments better. I would suggest his homework is to watch how Federer uses his slice to get to the net on YouTube. Learning this would bring a new dimension to his game that might see him breakthrough for another big tournament win.