Former world No. 3, Marin Cilic has pulled out of the Davis Cup Finals due to a recurring knee injury.
Cilic announced his withdrawal from Croatia’s squad on Social Media, explaining that he has been struggling with the knee problem for the last year and a half.
“The last year and a half has been a real struggle mentally and physically for me. Even with all the preventive work and rehab my team and I did, my recurring knee injury has continued to give me problems, Cilic wrote on Thursday.
The former US Open champion said the injury got so bad through the course of the season that he felt he would require surgery to correct the problem, but following recent scans, surgery will no longer be needed. He will however still need to spend time away from the sport, and undergo some “minor interventions” on his knee.
“I recently did an ultrasound and luckily the results were better than expected. The rehab work was successful enough that surgery is not necessary at this stage,” he continued. “However, I will need to undergo a few minor interventions which will keep me off the tennis court for a longer period and unfortunately means I will not be able to compete at the Davis Cup this month.”
The 31-year-old spearheaded Croatia to victory over France in the Davis Cup final in 2018, but that came at a cost, as he aggravated an on-going knee problem, and missed the start of 2019 as a result. Cilic eventually got his season going at the Australian Open, where he reached the fourth round before falling to Roberto Bautista-Agut. Unfortunately, the former top-ten mainstay did more damage to his knee in the process, and did not play again until Dubai at the end of February.
Cilic never got going through the rest of the year, making just the one semi-final in Antwerp in October, and two other quarter finals in Madrid and Washington. He ends 2019 with a 22-19 record, and a world ranking of 39th, his lowest ranking since October 2013.
“I will dedicate myself to getting back to form so that I can enter the 2020 season healthier, more prepared, and more motivated than ever,” said Cilic, who is also expecting his first child in 2020.
Cilic’s absence leaves Croatia very short of singles firepower as they head into the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid, with Borna Coric (at 28th in the world) being the only other player from that country inside the top 100. Coric has not been at his best in 2019, putting together a 27-21 record, and ending the season on a five-match losing streak. The other members of the current squad are Mate Pavic, Nikola Mektic and Ivan Dodig, all of whom are more renowned for their work in doubles. It has been reported that captain, Zeljko Krajan will call up 40-year-old Ivo Karlovic as replacement for Cilic.
Croatia are in a tough Group B at the Davis Cup Finals, along with home nation, Spain and a formidable Russian line-up. Only the group winners are guaranteed progress into the quarter finals, with the two best second placed teams set to join the last eight train.
The Davis Cup Finals is live from Madrid from 18-24 November.