Marin Cilic: Blister caused final misery

Marin Cilic said a painful blister on his left foot contributed to his Wimbledon tears on Sunday as he slipped to a straight sets defeat to Roger Federer in the final.

Marin Cilic explained that his tears at 3-0 down in the second set were more a result of his disappointment at not being able to perform at his best rather than a legacy of the pain.   -  Getty Images

Marin Cilic said a painful blister on his left foot contributed to his Wimbledon tears on Sunday as he slipped to a straight sets defeat to Roger Federer in the final.

Excerpts:

It was bad luck for you. You seemed to be in agony on court, especially starting at 3-0 in the second. Did you feel big pains? Did you consider at any point leaving the match?

Well, it was definitely one of the unfortunate days for me to happen. I got a really bad blister. Even I felt it in the match with Querrey in the semis. Fluid just came down under my callous in the foot.

I want to thank the physios here, Alejandro and Graham and Dr. Phil. They helped. The last 30 hours, they were just constantly almost with me. They did as much as they could, but unfortunately I still felt the pain.

Every time I had to do a reaction fast, fast change of movement, I was unable to do that.

Obviously was very tough emotionally because I know how much I went through last few months in preparation with everything. It was also tough because of my own team. They did so much for me. I just felt it was really bad luck.

But in any point, obviously if the score would go really badly, I wouldn't push it so much. But I really wanted to give my best, you know, to try as much as I could.

When you were quite emotional, was that because you feared you might have to stop at that point, not carry on?

Well, it was just a feeling that I knew that I cannot give my best on the court, that I cannot give my best game and my best tennis, especially at this stage of my career, at such a big match.

It was very, very difficult to deal with it. You know, that was the only thing. But otherwise, you know, it didn't hurt so much that it was putting me in tears. It was just that feeling that I wasn't able to give the best.

You showed a lot of courage, commiserations. Could you tell us what went through your mind as the match progressed.

I mean, I didn't have actually time on the court also to congratulate Roger. Don't want to put down his victory in any way. I mean, he deserved it completely. These things are part of the sport. Really congratulations to him and his team for everything he did, for another title here.

What was the second part?

Your mental process as the match progressed.

Yeah, for me was actually very difficult to focus on the match, as well, as my mind was all the time blocked with the pain. It was tough for me to focus on the tactics, on the things that I needed to do.

I wasn't serving very good today because of that. Also, you know, I was just not able to set up properly on the balls. It was very, very tough to deal with it.

When you think of what you put yourselves through physically to get to this level, does it make it even more frustrating that it's not minor, but something so small?

Yeah, absolutely. You know, you go through so many things. Even exercise in the gym just to get your body ready for everything. Such a small thing can play a huge difference. Obviously extremely difficult to deal with it, to accept it in that way.

But, you know, I'm really proud of myself for everything I did these two weeks over here. I played, I would say, probably best tennis of my life. That's what I'm going to take home with me.

In that moment at the change when you were overcome with emotion, what did you say to yourself to get back out there and even win the next game?

I was just, you know, trying to focus to try to play the game, not to think about my pain. It was mixed of emotions. Obviously a little bit of a frustration that I had that, and also trying to focus on the other side. It's a tough part when you're in that kind of situation. You know there is not much possibility that you're going to win. It's just actually fighting it through.

Did you know before the match started that you weren't going to be able to be at your best today or something you realized as it went on?

Yeah, we even tried with some anesthetics just to block the pain. But in that area it's very difficult because it's hard skin. It helped, but I still felt some pain.

Even when I was warming up for the match, I was trying to test myself in exercises with change of direction. Really I was too slow basically to react. I knew that it's going to be difficult. But I tried.

After you start crying, you decided to play serve and volley. Was that because maybe a different movement from running from one side to the other? Secondly, you said 30 hours ago you found out. Did you try to hide to everybody else?

Obviously in the match I tried to change it up and tried to play serve and volley, not to put myself in a situation where I have to move laterally left and right, and try to just do something different.

But still, you know, I was a break down and Roger was playing really well. Serve and volley is actually not something that I'm so used to.

Other part, I mean, I felt it straight after the match in the semis. I felt that the foot wasn't so good. It wasn't so bad after the match. We tried to take some fluid out overnight, and yesterday in the morning it was worse. The doctors and physios were trying to help as much as they could. They really did the best they could, really helped a lot.

Yeah, we kept it in the team. I was still hoping that everything is going to be good.

When do you think Roger noticed your problem today? Do you think he noticed immediately or when really when you called the physio?

I think I start to give few more signals that, you know, I wasn't moving as good I think at 5-3 of the first set. Even today until that point, even though I was close with the score, I felt that I was just not setting up well for the balls. I was missing more than usual, more than that the rest of the tournament.

You know, it started to become little -- I started to become a little bit more aware of it. It was tough for me to block it and to continue to play what I need to play.

Obviously in those situations, it's not easy, as well, for the opponent. Roger, at this time, he doesn't know what am I going to come up with. I was trying to play all or nothing. But he definitely played really, really consistently, and served really well throughout the match.

Do you think in a few weeks when you look back at this tournament you will feel glad because you reached the final and it was fantastic, or the way you lost today is going to linger more than the overall achievement?

No, as in everything, I'm very straightforward. I know that these last two weeks have been great tennis from me. My level was on a position where it hasn't been before on grass, so I'm extremely satisfied with that. Extremely happy. This will give me much more confidence, much more strength for the rest of the year.

I know that my level can even go higher, so that is something that I'm looking forward to. That's something which is definitely making me more happy.

With that loss today, obviously it's a sad one, it's a devastating one, but I'm still very proud and thankful for all my team that was helping me to get here.

Do you have any sense of how long the blisters will take to heal, any impact on switching over to the hard courts?

I hope it's not going to take long. It even swelled up a little bit after the match now. Anyway, having now three weeks off before U.S. series, tournaments in Montreal and Cincinnati, I believe until that time everything is going to be okay.

Can you say what makes Roger Federer such an incredible talent, incredible ambassador?

I think his ability and his desire to continue to improve is definitely one of the best in the game. Even at age that he is at now, he's still improving, still challenging himself to get better and better. All credit to him and his team that they find ways to get him better and to another level.

I mean, not talking about today's final, he had an unbelievable journey until the final, also winning Halle and getting to the finals without dropping a set, and today also played a great match.

I mean, all positive things. Really a great gentleman, extremely one of the biggest ambassadors of tennis.

In the moment you were crying in the second set, was that the frustration of not being able to put out your best tennis or the physical pain of the blisters?

It was just emotionally that I knew on such a big day that I'm unable to play my best tennis, in physical, and in every single way. That was just a little bit combination of all emotions because I know how much it took for me to get here.

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