Carlos Alcaraz, Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Next Gen "opened quite a few doors" in 2022, says Marin Cilic, expects "highly competitive" 2023

Marin Cilic speaks about the next gen, ft. Carlos Alcaraz and Felix Auger-Aliassime.
Marin Cilic speaks about the next gen, ft. Carlos Alcaraz and Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Marin Cilic believes tennis' "Next Gen" has blown the door wide open as they aim to topple the likes of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Cilic himself, among others, and consistently challenge for the big titles. The former US Open champion heaped praise on Felix Auger-Aliassime, Carlos Alcaraz and Casper Ruud, as well as other rising stars in the sport.

Cilic believes the abundance of talent and competitiveness on the men's tour will lead to a strong battle for each of the Top-20 ranking spots in the 2023 season. Currently the World No. 17, the 34-year-old Croatian, who had a strong 2022 season, will himself be in the heat of that battle this season.

Cilic expects a "very, very interesting" 2022 season to be backed up by a highly competitive 2023, which he personally begins at the ongoing Tata Open Maharashtra.

“This last season was interesting," Marin Cilic said during a press conference ahead of the start of his Tata Open Maharashtra campaign. "I think you would agree, very, very interesting in that sense. Quite a few guys opened quite a few doors for them."
"I think now the competition is quite strong and I would say that this year is going to be a battle for each spot in Top-20. I would say it's going to be a really competitive year in that sense," he further expressed, looking forward to 2023.

Among the next gen stars, Cilic hailed Auger-Aliassime and Holger Rune for their stellar runs of form in the second half of 2022. Highlighting Auger-Aliassime's rise, the Croatian compared the Canadian's title-winning spree towards the end of last year to Daniil Medvedev's 2019 season, while also stressing that his win over Novak Djokovic at the Laver Cup was "huge."

"Felix at the end of the season, incredible. Like comparing it almost with Daniil’s 2019 season with such a great streak winning 2,3 in a row and then also playing fantastic at end of the season, winning the Davis Cup," Marin Cilic continued.
"He opened so many things for him. Also beating Novak in Laver Cup, which was even though an ‘exhibition’ but it was a serious thing. Then Holger winning Paris Bercy."

Marin Cilic applauds "unbelievable" Carlos Alcaraz and "fantastically consistent" Casper Ruud

Champion Carlos Alcaraz and runner-up Casper Ruud at the 2022 US Open.
Champion Carlos Alcaraz and runner-up Casper Ruud at the 2022 US Open.

Marin Cilic also shared his thoughts on the rapid rise of Carlos Alcaraz and Casper Ruud, particularly at the Grand Slam level. While Alcaraz won the 2022 US Open, beating Ruud in the final, the Norwegian reached two Grand Slam finals last season. The Croatian hailed Alcaraz's level of improvement and Ruud's consistency.

Along with other established stars like Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, and more, Cilic believes that the likes of Alcaraz, Ruud, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Holger Rune, and other Next Gen stars have set up an exciting future for world tennis.

"Alcaraz, unbelievable guy to sort of make that huge gap of improvement from the year prior to 2022, unbelievable," Marin Cilic expressed.
"So mix them in with Daniil, Zverev, Tsitsipas, you know, Shapo or you know so many guys that are now close. Casper also really consistent, fantastically consistent."

In the three Grand Slams that he competed in last season, Cilic looked dangerous and much like his best self that won the 2014 US Open. Interestingly, the three players he lost to were among the Next Gen stars that he spoke highly of: Auger-Aliassime at the Australian Open, Ruud at the French Open, and Alcaraz at the US Open.

However, Marin Cilic did not go down without a fight in all those matches. As he aims to turn the tables if he comes up against them in 2023, the Australian Open will be his first shot at it. The Tata Open Maharashtra, where he is a strong favorite, promises, therefore, to be the perfect preparation for Melbourne.

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Edited by Shyam Kamal
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