Last Updated on September 15, 2022
A Croatian professional tennis player who began his path to success in the small town of Medjugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina, recognized for 20 ATP singles titles and an unwavering dedication to philanthropy is 33-years-old Marin Cilic.
He was born in a family of four; he has three brothers who were also playing tennis. His father Zdenko runs a local business and his mother works in a bank. Marin started playing tennis at age of seven at local tennis court and in 2002 he moved to Zagreb to continue with his tennis development. There he played his first ATP pro tournament in his career. He has few nicknames such as Hurricane Cilic, Super Marin and Red Hot Cilic Peppers. Marin’s hobby is football and his favorite club Italian AC Milan. His tennis idol is compatriot Goran Ivanisevic who also was his coach during his career.
Who Is Current Marin Cilic’s Coach?
At the moment Marin is coached by two Croatians, Ivan CInkus since 2015 with a break of two years in between and Vilim Visak since 2019.
Ivan Cinkus was born on 19th February 1980 in Zagreb, Croatia. As a tennis player he mostly played at Futures tournament and his best ATP ranking was World No.217 in doubles. Then he started his coaching career and was working in China with young talented players. He became part of Marin’s team in March 2015 at the request of Goran Ivanisevic, his head coach at that time. Since start of season 2018 Ivan became Marin’s only coach and was together until end of 2019. They reunited for the start of the season 2022.
Cinkus was there when Marin won 2015 Kremlin Cup in Moscow, then his maiden Masters title at Cinncinati and his maiden ATP-500 title at Swiss Indoors in Basel during 2016, and 2017 Istanbul Open his second clay court ATP title.
As Cinkus became Marin’s head coach in 2018, the results started to show immediately. At the beginning of the season Marin reached Australian Open final and became the first Croatian to ever reach the singles final at Melbourne Park. On grass-court season he won Queen’s Championship for second time in his career and at end of the season he claim Davis Cup title with Croatia.
“He is always focused. Whether it is practice or matches. He is a really great worker on the court, a hard worker. Marin always wants to improve his game. The top players have been doing this.” said Cinkus in an interview.
Next year was far from good, without cup won, first after ten consecutive seasons with a title claimed, which led to fall from top 30. Due to bad results they split up at the end of the season.
Since September 2019, part of Marin Cilic’s team became another Croatian tennis coach, Vilim Visak.
Vilim Visak was born on 3rd July 1986 in Losinj, Croatia. He started playing tennis when he was 5 years old and was 4 times Croatian Champion. As a junior he played at Junior Grand Slams, was 17th on the junior world ranking list under 18 yrs, 2nd on the European ranking list under 16 years and was Croatia representative in all categories. Fun fact is that in 2005 at Futures in Slovenia he played against Cilic and won. His best ranking is No.612 in the World.
Vilim has been coaching since 2009 and is part of Ivan Ljubici Academy in Losinj. His trainees were Polona Hercog which took to the WTA No.90, Petra Ivanisevic No.15 in Croatia in the category up to 16 years and Leopold Muzic No.62 in Croatia in the senior category.
As Visak started coaching Cilic, during the shortened 2020 season, there were no notable results. In 2021, he won his first ATP title after three years at Stuttgart Open, and later claims another one at St. Petersburg Open. He finished the season as World No.28. During this year he played semifinal at French Open and became only 5th active player and the first Croatian player to reach this level at all four Grand Slams.
Part of Cilic’s team as conditional coach is former Croatian athlete, Dejan Vojnovic.
He is one of the few world athletes who have participated both in Summer (100 meters race) and Winter (bob-sled team) Olympic Games. After retirement he started career as conditional coach of tennis players and among others he prepared Dinara Safina, Dominika Cibulkova, Jelena Jankovic and Marcos Baghdatis.
Also in the team is physiotherapist Stjiepo Jarak.
Marin Cilic’s Past Coaches
At the age of fifteen, on the recommendation of Goran Ivanisevic, Marin moved to San Remo, Italy to work with Ivanisevic’s former coach Bob Brett.
Bob Brett was born on 13th November 1953 in Melbourne, Australia and died at the beginning of this year. He developed interest in tennis during his childhood. Unable to pursue a professional tennis career of his own, Brett became a postman in 1971 as well as a second evening job, and in 1974 he became tennis coach at Port Washington Tennis Academy.
In November 1987, Brett was appointed to the team of the German two-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker who described him as his “first real trainer”. Becker went on to win three Grand Slams during his career with Brett, and briefly regained the World No.1 in January 1991 following his victory at the Australian Open. The two men made a mutual decision to part ways in February 1991, when Brett’s contract had come to an end.
In 1991 Brett started coaching Goran Ivanisevic who was 19-years-old at that time. Brett and Ivanišević maintained their partnership until 1995, during which time the Croat won nine titles, and also finished as losing finalist in the 1992 and the 1994 Wimbledon finals.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Brett worked with a number of players such as Andrei Medvedev, who reached the 1999 French Open final while working with him and Nicolas Kiefer who he raised to the World No. 4 ranking. From 2000 to 2006 he worked with Japanese tennis federation and in 2002 he founded Bob Brett Tennis Center in San Remo Italy.
There, at Ivanisevic’s recommendation, Marin Cilic started training in 2004 and Brett became his coach for the next nine years. Under Brett’s mentorship, while playing on the junior circuit Marin won six tournaments in singles and four in doubles and in 2005 he won Junior French Open. In 2007 Marin won his first professional tournament of his career at Casablanca Challenger and shortly after then the second one at Rijeka Challenger. The next year came his first ATP title at Connecticut Open and he entered top 40 tennis players in the World.
He started season 2009 by winning his second career ATP title at Chennai Open and later in the year he won Zagreb Indoors and reached first Grand Slam quarterfinal at US Open. In 2010 Marin defended his two titles won previous year and played semifinal at Australian Open, which led him to World No.9 ATP ranking. Next year he won his sixth ATP title by winning at St. Petersburg Open and during 2012 he won another two at Queens Championships and Croatia Open. His last title while working with Brett, he won at 2013 Zagreb Indoors
In May 2013 Marin Cilic announced that Brett is no longer his coach and in late 2013 he started working with Goran Ivanisevic.
Goran Ivanisevic was born 13th September 1971 in Split, Croatia. He is the best Croatian tennis player by titles won so far, and is current tennis coach. During his playing career he won 22 ATP singles titles and 9 playing in doubles. He won 2001 Wimbledon after receiving wildcard for the tournament. He retired in 2004 and later started coaching. In 2020 Goran was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
In his coaching career Goran trained top players such as Tomas Berdych, Milos Raonic and since 2019 he is Novak Djokovic’s coach. Most notable results are the six Grand Slam tournaments won with Novak so far.
During the period of coaching Marin, Cilic won his only major title to date, 2014 US Open. At the first year of collaboration, he also won Zagreb Indoors, Delray Beach Open and Kremlin Cup in Moscow and finished the season as World No.9. Next year he only defended his Kremlin Cup title and after 2016 Wimbledon Marin and Goran ended their player-coach relationship.
“The first time I stood across the net from Marin Cilic he was 14 years old. He was staying with my friend in Zagreb and I was injured at the time so I had nothing to do. He failed to put a ball in the court that day, but I said this kid is going to be a top-ten player. I saw something. It’s tough to explain, but it’s something different, something that you cannot learn, something that you cannot buy. You are born with it.” said Ivanisevic about his trainee in an interview.
From August 2016 Marin was training with his new coach Jonas Bjorkman.
Jonas Bjorkman was born 23rd March 1972 in Alvesta, Sweden. The son of tennis coach Lars Björkman, Jonas began playing tennis at the age of six. He was known for playing in doubles where won 54 titles out of which nine Grand Slams and was World No.1. Playing singles he won only 6 titles.
At the same start of their partnership, Marin won his maiden ATP title at Cincinnati Open and later his maiden ATP 500 level title at Swiss Indoors. In 2017 he won Istanbul Open which was his tenth consecutive year winning at least one ATP title. That year he played Wimbledon final and broke into the top five for the first time in his career.
“We’ve been working a lot on the volley first, and then the transition to get comfortable up there but also to sort of hit and come in and commit for that. On the grass court he’s been feeling a lot more comfortable and has been playing a little bit of serve and volley. I think that’s been the greatest progress on the grass – what we’ve tried to work on since I came into the team.” said Bjorkman.
Ahead of season 2018 they parted ways.
In 2020 Marin announced that his new coach will be Vedran Martic.
Vedran Martic was born in Split, Croatia. As a player, he played for the youth national teams of Yugoslavia, and then he moved to Germany and started his coaching career He worked there for ten years and collaborated with players like Anke Huber, Natalia Medvedeva, Younes El Aynaoui. From 1996 he was Goran Ivanisevic’s coach who in the period together played in 20 finals and won ten ATP titles. They formally parted at the end of 2000 due to Vedran’s private reasons, but he still trained him occasionally and prepared him for 2001 Wimbledon where Ivanisevic won the title.
Vedran was Karen Khachanov’s coach in the period 2017-2020. Khachanov’s uncle found Martic like a coach that mentors players higher than 190cm and Karen moved to Split, Croatia where they worked together. While under Vedran’s guidance, Karen won three ATP titles, including a Masters 1000 title at the 2018 Paris Masters and achieved his career-high singles ranking of World No.8.
As for Marin, they didn’t have fruitful collaboration, Cilic managed to won only one title at 2021 Stuttgart Open and they parted away in September that year. However, they are still in a player-coach relationship, because Vedran is the captain of the Croatian Davis Cup team that includes Marin as best Croatian tennis player at the moment.
“Vedran Martic and I have decided to end our professional relationship and I would like to take a moment to thank him for his dedication, hard work, and all he has done for me as my coach. Of course, he stays my dear friend and Davis Cup captain.” announced Cilic on Twitter.
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Marin Cilic’s achievements with different coaches
We have collected in the table the data about the trophies won by Marin Cilic under the guidance of various coaches.
|Coaches||Years of Completion||Titles|
|Ivan Cinkus||2015 – ongoing||2015 Kremlin Cup 2016 Cincinnati Open 2016 Basel Open 2017 Istanbul Open 2018 Queen’s Championship 2018 Davis Cup|
|Vilim Visek||2019 – ongoing||2021 Stuttgart Open 2021 St. Petersburg Open|
|Bob Brett||2004 – 2013||2005 Junior French Open 2007 Casablanca Challenger 2007 Rijeka Challenger 2008 Connecticut Open 2009 Chennai Open 2009 Zagreb Indoors 2010 Chennai Open 2010 Zagreb Indoors 2011 St. Petersburg Open 2012 Queens Championship 2012 Croatia Open 2013 Zagreb Indoors|
|Goran Ivanisevic||2013 – 2016||2014 Zagreb Indoors 2014 Delray Beach Open 2014 US Open 2014 Kremlin Cup 2015 Kremlin Cup|
|Jonas Bjorkman||2016 – 2017||2016 Cincinnati Open 2016 Swiss Indoors 2017 Istanbul Open|
|Vedran Martic||2020 – 2021||2021 Stuttgart Open|