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Baby Goran comes of age at Flushing Meadows

A little nudge in the right direction from his hero and Croatian countryman Goran Ivanisevic helped Marin Cilic to overcome a major hump on Tuesday.

sports Updated: Sep 10, 2009 00:54 IST

A little nudge in the right direction from his hero and Croatian countryman Goran Ivanisevic helped Marin Cilic to overcome a major hump on Tuesday. The 20-year-old Cilic, yet another Croatian beanpole blessed with a thunderbolt serve, has long been on the verge of making his Grand Slam breakthrough.

But after tripping up in the last 16 four times, he made it count on his fifth attempt by clattering past British second seed Andy Murray. “I'm feeling tremendously happy. Of course it's biggest result for me so far. After reaching the last 16 four times, it was a little bit of relief after I won it. Now that I don't have this (mental) blockade in my head, I can look forward.”

Cilic began his journey towards Grand Slam success more than six years ago when Ivanisevic, fresh from his triumph at Wimbledon, needed a hitting partner.

A 14-year-old Cilic jumped at the chance of testing out his skills against the country's best and has never looked back.

“In 2002/2003, Goran was staying in Zagreb and practising all the time with me when he was there. He connected me with his ex-coach, Bob Brett, who I am here with,” said Cilic.

“Goran was a great help, otherwise I wouldn't be here today. He is the one who brought tennis on a high level in Croatia and everybody looked at him as a hero.”

Sugiyama likely to retire this year

TOKYO: Japanese veteran Ai Sugiyama says she is likely to retire at the end of this tennis season. Sugiyama, 34, has indicated the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo later this month will likely be her last in a 17-year career in which her singles ranking rose to a high of No. 8. “I am normally the type that can picture what the near future holds but to be honest at this moment in time I can't see myself competing next season,” Sugiyama told Kyodo news on Wednesday.