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First-Time Winner Spotlight

How does it feel to win your first ATP World Tour title in your home country?
I think it’s the best thing that can happen to a player – to play at home in front of your own crowd. I’m really happy and enjoying this day. It was amazing for me all week and it’s an unbelievable experience.

Did you ever dream your first ATP World Tour title would be in front of family and friends?
This is the first time that all my family and cousins were here supporting me – that motivated me even more. It was a nice and great experience.

You kept the streak alive of a Croat reaching the final here for the sixth straight year, were you aware of that after Saturday’s win?
There was a lot of questions about that but I didn’t have any pressure. I just tried to concentrate on my tennis, to play point by point until the last point. There was no pressure, I just played match by match.

You were the only player to take a set off Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open, did that give you extra confidence coming in here?
Yes of course, he had a great tournament there and I played two great sets against him. I think I took some positive things from that match and my confidence was much higher. Here I showed that I can play very well and win the tournament.

What was the key to your success this week in putting together five match wins for the first time?
I think I served really well all week, especially on the important points. My serve is my best shot. I’m very happy that the serve was working great in all the matches this week.

What was your approach going into your first final and did you speak with anyone (did they give you advice)?
I talked with Goran [Ivanisevic] and practised with him before the match. He’s the guy with the experience. He’s an unbelievable player and he knows how to play these big matches, especially the finals. And of course he helped me with my tactics.

Now that you’re at a career-high ranking, what are your goals the rest of the season?
In the beginning of the year the goal was to stay in the Top 100. That is still my first goal. I need to still work a lot, but my final goal for this season is to try and catch the Top 50. I hope I will make it.

Who were the player(s) you admired growing up and did you pattern your game after him (them)?
For me it’s always Goran Ivanisevic. When I was young I always watched his matches. Even now to practice with him is amazing. And of course, there’s also Roger Federer. You can learn a lot from him, he’s for sure one of the best players in the world and he’s also my idol.

Who has helped you get where you are today in your career?
I would like to thank first of all my family. There have been a lot of tough times in my career and I was thinking about stopping a couple of times. But my family was always close to me and I really have to thank them for the support.

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