Saturday, 24 July 2021

Croatia Tennis at Olympic Games: Wins for Mektić and Pavić, Marin Čilić in First Round!

July 24, 2021 - Croatia tennis at Olympic Games -  a good start as Croatian doubles team Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić move to the 2nd round, as does Croatia's only male representative in the singles tournament - Marin Čilić!

Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić have overcome their first obstacle in the Olympic tournament. In the first round, they played against Marcelo Demoliner and Marcelo Melo and celebrated 7:6, 6:4. 

Brazilians Marcelo Demoliner and Marcelo Melo offered strong resistance to Nikola Mektić and Mato Pavić, but the Croatian pair was still better and took the deserved victory.

Mektić and Pavić are the favorites for gold, but surprises are not uncommon at the Olympic Games. 

The Croatian team was on the verge of losing the first set in which the Brazilians led 5:0, but by the end of the tie-break, Mektić and Pavić made it 8:1 and took the 13th game with 8:6.

In the second set, there were no breaks until the very end, when Mektić and Pavić reached 5:40 at 5:4. They had their second match point and advanced to the second round.

In the second round, they will play against the winners of Spain's Andujar / Carballes Baena and Italy's Musetti / Sonego.

Marin Čilić, the only male Croatian tennis player in the singles competition of the Olympics, advanced to the 2nd round with a big turnaround, defeating Brazilian Joao Menezes (ATP - 217th) 6:7 (5), 7:5, 7:6 (7) after three hours and 23 minutes of play.

Čilić finished the match with 12 aces, 12 double faults, and a first-serve percentage of only 54%. He made 49 unforced errors compared to Menezes' 27 and realized only five of the 17 break points he had.

Čilić's opponent in the 2nd round will be Spaniard Pablo Carreno-Busta (ATP - 11th) who defeated American Tennys Sandgren 7:5, 6:2. Čilić is 4-0 against the Spaniard in mutual matches.

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Sunday, 16 May 2021

Italian Open: Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic Win 6th Joint Title!

May 16, 2021 - Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić have done it again, this time with a title at the Italian Open! 

Croatian tennis players Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić won the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Rome, defeating American Rajeev Rama and Briton Joe Salisbury 6:4, 7:6 (4) in the final.

Pavić and Mektić won the first set after 33 minutes of play thanks to a break in the fifth game which was enough for the 6:4 win. In the second set, neither side had a break and the decision fell in the 13th game, which was fantastically played by the Croats who quickly took a 6:0 lead. Their opponents saved four match points but failed to save the fifth and the celebration began for the Croatian duo.

This year has been extremely successful for Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić. They have played eight finals and have won six titles so far (Antalya, Melbourne, Rotterdam, Miami, Monte Carlo, Rome).

They reached the final in four Masters 1000 tournaments and have three titles. They have 37 wins and four losses this season.

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Saturday, 7 March 2020

Davis Cup Qualifiers: Brilliant Cilic Takes Croatia to Finals!

March 7, 2020 - Marin Cilic celebrated 6-0, 6-1 against Sumit Nagal, bringing Croatia its third point against India and spot in the finals this November in Madrid.

After the defeat of Mate Pavic and Frank Skugor in the doubles match, Marin Cilic was class. On a relatively fast court, Cilic used all his strengths and, for the 11th time in his career, brought the winning point to the Croatia Davis Cup team.

Marin rushed through the first set in 29 minutes. The second set was even quicker, and the 22-year-old Indian player managed to retain his serve once and save himself from a 6-0, 6-0 defeat. It took only 56 minutes for Cilic to win the match.

Before the duel, Rohit Rajpal set Nagal instead of Prajnesh Gunneswaran, who lost to Borna Gojo on the first day, but the move did not prove wise or useful. The impression is that Gunneswaran would have been a much tougher rival, but for an inspired Cilic, as we watched on Friday and Saturday in Zagreb, he would still not be good enough.

Croatia justified its role of favorites, just as Marin Cilic justified his status as the best tennis player in this duel. In just over eight months, Croatia will once again be one of the 18 national teams to compete for the Cup in Madrid. Qualifying for the finals in Madrid brought $300,000 to the Croatian Tennis Federation, and US  $600,000 will be shared by national team members.

The final tournament is scheduled for November 23-29, 2020. Spain, Canada, the United Kingdom and Russia qualified as last year's semifinalists, Serbia and France have received invitations, and through qualifications, Croatia, Ecuador, Australia, Italy, Germany, Kazakhstan, Sweden and Austria will compete. 

The draw of the final tournament group will be held on Thursday, March 12 (5 pm) in London.

Source: HRT

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Thursday, 27 February 2020

Davis Cup: Croatia Tennis to Play India in Zagreb for Spot in 2020 Finals

February 27, 2020 - The Davis Cup match between the Croatia tennis team and India will be held in the small hall of Dom Sportova in Zagreb from March 6-7. At a presentation at the Westin Hotel in Zagreb, the organizing committee confirmed that all preparations were in full swing and once again urged fans not to miss the opportunity to cheer on Croatian tennis stars at home.

HRT reports that the Croatia tennis team will meet the national team of India in Hall 2 of Dom Sportova from March 6-7, 2020. The winner will secure a spot at the Davis Cup finals in Madrid in November.

“The stakes are really high and India needs to be taken seriously, especially since they are coming with the strongest squad possible. We are not complete, we will wait for Coric until the draw on Thursday, March 4, but I think that without him we have enough strength to, with the support of our fans, record the win,”  said national team coach Vedran Martic at a news conference in Zagreb ahead of the Croatia-India Davis Cup series.

Borna Coric sustained a hand injury in Rio de Janeiro, but since it is not a serious injury, we will wait until the last minute, Martic added.

Marin Cilic (ATP - 36), Borna Gojo (ATP - 276), Nino Serdarusic (ATP - 295) and two doubles specialists Ivan Dodig (ATP - 10) and Mate Pavic (ATP - 16) will play for the Croatia national team.

India national team coach Rohit Rajpal is bringing the strongest possible lineup for the qualifiers against Croatia in Zagreb,  in which the highest-ranked player in the individual competition is 22-year-old Sumit Nagal (ATP - 127), and a strong veteran doubles team will consist of 39-year-old Rohan Bopanna and 46-year-old legend Leander Paes.

In addition, 30-year-old Prajnesh Gunneswaran (ATP - 127) and 25-year-old Ramkumar Ramanathan (ATP - 180) will compete in the individual matches.

“India will base their tactics on two wins against our other player, be it Gojo or Serdarusic, and they have a great and experienced doubles team of Bopanna-Paes if they play. But we also have a great doubles team, Pavic-Dodig, and I believe that Gojo and Serdarusic have a chance to record at least one win. Cilic is in good form, although he lost in Dubai. The good thing is that we also have seven days of training and getting used to the grounds,” Martic said.

The match will be played on a hard court in the Small Hall of Zagreb's Dom Sportova. On the first day, Saturday, March 6, there are two singles matches scheduled, and on Sunday, the doubles will be played first, followed by the singles.

“I am glad that the Davis Cup is back in Croatia again, and this is an opportunity for Croatian fans to finally see our best tennis players. I expect a win and a good atmosphere,” said Croatian Tennis Federation (HTS) President Nikolina Babic.

The match between Croatian and India in Zagreb will be one of twelve qualifying rounds, and the winners will join last year's semifinalists Spain, Canada, the United Kingdom and Russia, as well as the national teams that received the invitation, Serbia and France.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.

Monday, 6 January 2020

ATP Cup Sydney: Croatia Records Second Group Win, Tops Poland 2:1

January 7, 2020 - In their second appearance in Group E at the ATP Cup in Sydney, the Croatia tennis team reached their second victory, topping Poland 2:1. Marin Cilic secured the first point for Croatia against Kacper Zuk (7:6 (8), 6:4). Hubert Hurkacz equalized with a surprisingly convincing victory against Borna Coric (6:2, 6:2), though Croatia’s doubles team of Ivan Dodig and Nikola Mektic were better than Hurkacz and Lukasz Kubot 6:2, 6:1.

The young Kacper Zuk (20), the 448th best tennis player in the world who played his first-ever ATP match on Monday, was inspiring against Marin Cilic, and in the tie-break of the first set, he reached the set-point (6:5). However, it was Marin to find the path to victory in two sets.

"I think my level of play was good; I was aggressive, served well. If I have to choose something that I was not happy with, then it is definitely utilizing my chances to break,” Marin said after the match. Marin used only one of the 13 opportunities to take Zuk’s serve. Zuk, on the other hand, did not use any of his four breaks. 

Hubert Hurkacz (37th on the ATP list) dominated Borna Coric in the second match. The Zagreb native made as many as 26 unforced errors during the match and won a total of eight points on Hurkacz’s serve.

"It was one of the best matches of my career so far," the 22-year-old  Hurkacz admitted after the match.

As for the doubles, it was a cat-and-mouse game where Hurkacz and Kubot scored just nine points on the return serve. In addition to the Croatian victory, the match will be remembered for a fantastic move by Ivan Dodig at a 3-0 lead in the second set. Ivan instinctively played a fantastic lob behind his back, which resulted in the eruptive applause of fans. It was one of the most beautiful and impressive points ever seen in a doubles competition.

Croatia is now on the verge of winning the group and only needs one win in the match against Argentina, which is scheduled for Wednesday. 

The only way Croatia can fail to qualify for the quarterfinals is in the event of a 3:0 defeat to Argentina and Austria's 3:0 victory against Poland. In this case, Croatia would have the weakest ratio.

One win against Argentina would be enough to put Croatia at the top to secure the quarterfinals. 

Marin Cilic will play against Guido Pella and will be the first to secure Croatia's spot in the quarterfinals. If he fails, a fight between Borna Coric and Diego Schwartzman will follow, followed by a doubles match.

Given the first two rounds, the safest pair would be Ivan Dodig and Nikola Mektic, who’ve won both matches thus far. 

In any case, Croatia is in a great position to qualify for the quarterfinals of the premier ATP Cup, in which they would meet the winner of Group D. This will very likely be Russia, who only needs to defeat Norway to secure the first place. 

Source: HTS

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Thursday, 2 January 2020

Croatian Sport 2020: A Look at Year Ahead

January 2, 2019 -  After reviewing 2019 in Croatian sport, a look at the year ahead.

A remarkable year in Croatian sport lies ahead. It is the year of the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, and the Euros in handball, water polo, and football - but that doesn’t even scratch the surface. 

A closer look at 2020 in Croatian sport. 

The first weekend of 2020 will kick off with the always exciting ski spectacle on Sljeme in Zagreb - the Audi FIS Ski World Cup “Snow Queen Trophy” 2020. Namely, on Saturday, January 4, the women's slalom will feature in the program, while a day later, the men will take the stage. Croatian skiers will compete in both of these races.

Leona Popovic is the biggest expectation in the women's competition after she won the first slalom points in her career in Lienz, Austria, not even one week ago. However, Croatia has a respectable team of skiers, as evidenced by the fact that three Croatian representatives have finished with points twice this season, which many nations cannot boast.

The first-ever ATP Cup will take place across Australia in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney from January 3 to 12. The Croatia national team will play in Sydney against Argentina and Poland. Borna Coric, Marin Cilic and Viktor Galovic will represent Croatia. Croatia’s tennis players will continue their stay in Australia for the Australian Open in Melbourne from January 14 to 27. 

Croatia handball is next to steal the show, as from January 9 to 26, the European Championships are held. For the first time in history, the Euros will be played in three countries (Austria, Norway, Sweden) with 24 national teams. The ‘Cowboys' are placed in Group A in Graz, where their opponents will be Montenegro (January 9), Belarus (January 11) and Serbia (January 13). The two best teams move to the second round to be played in Vienna, and from that newly formed group (which will likely include Spain and Germany), the two top-ranked teams go to the semifinals.

Nearly running parallel to the Handball Euros is the European Water Polo Championship, which will be played in Budapest. This competition begins on January 14 and ends on January 26, with the ‘Barakudas’ in Group A against Germany (January 14), Montenegro (January 16) and Slovakia (January 18). The winner of the group goes directly to the quarterfinals, and the second and third go to the playoffs against Group C, hosted by Hungary, Spain, Turkey and Malta.

The second half of the Croatian First League returns earlier than ever, on January 31, with the match between Inter Zapresic and Istra 1961. The other games of the 20th round will be played in February.

Croatian football will be in focus in the first half of February, because in addition to the Championship, the Croatian Cup will continue, where Rijeka and Dinamo are scheduled in the quarterfinals on February 5. On February 12, the semifinals will be played with the winner of Rijeka - Dinamo against the host Osijek, while the other semifinal features Slaven Belupo and Lokomotiva. 

The Champions League knockout phase continues on February 18, followed by the Europa League two days later.

Croatia basketball will begin qualifications for EuroBasket 2021 in February. Coach Veljko Mrsic will again not be able to count on NBA players or those who play in the Euroleague. Croatia welcomes Sweden on February 21 and visits the Netherlands three days later. Turkey is also in Croatia's group, and three national teams will qualify for EuroBasket. 

The Croatia football team returns in March for two friendly games as part of their Euro preparations. The dates, as well as the opponents, are still unknown. On January 31, we will find out Croatia’s remaining rival in the Euros alongside England and the Czech Republic. The Nations League C Playoffs will be played that day, and the winner will play in Glasgow against Croatia in the third round of Group D on June 23. It will either be Scotland, Israel, Norway or Serbia.

April may be crucial for the Croatia handball team. Should the Cowboys fail to qualify for the Olympic Games in January at the Euros, their next exam will be held from April 17 to 19 when the Olympic Qualifying Tournament will be played.

In May, the focus returns to football thanks to the Croatian Championship and Cup, with an emphasis on the Cup final on May 13 at Subicevac, followed by the last round of the Croatian First League, which will be played on May 17.

The second Grand Slam tournament of the season, Roland Garros, begins Sunday, May 24.

In June, we move our attention to the Euros in football, which begins with the Turkey-Italy match on June 12. Zlatko Dalic's side will play two friendly games, one in Osijek on June 1 or 2, and one away in France, as a rematch of the World Cup final and general prep for the Euro competition. At the Euros, Croatia will play against England at Wembley on June 14, while the second and third Group D matches will be played in Glasgow: on June 19 against the Czech Republic and June 23 against the Nations League C winner.

At the same time Croatia is expected to get out of their Euro group, the Croatia basketball team will play in the final Olympic Qualifying Tournament at the Spaladium Arena in Split. Brazil, lead by coach Aco Petrovic, Tunisia, Germany, Russia and Mexico will participate in the qualifying tournament. Only the best of these teams will go to Tokyo.

Days later, tennis fans can rejoice with the return of the most prestigious tournament in the world, Wimbledon, on June 29.

On Friday, July 24, the new season of the Croatian First League and the Olympic Games begin in Tokyo. The biggest sports celebration will last until Sunday, August 9.  Croatian athletes are looking to repeat the medal harvest from 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, where they took home ten medals, five of which were gold.

In August, Croatian football clubs will fight to qualify for the group stage in one of the UEFA competitions. Namely, in the summer of 2020, five Croatian clubs will compete in the Champions League and Europa League qualifiers.

A new edition of the Nations League will follow in early September. The Croatia national team will once against compete in the highest rank.

Shortly after that, the Champions League and Europa League seasons will kick-off for the last time in the format as we know it. Recall, from 2021, there will be 32 instead of 48 clubs so far. At the same time, the last Grand Slam of the season, the US Open, will begin.

This is merely a fraction of what's on in Croatian sport this year. Follow TCN to find out more.

Source: Gol.hr

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Davis Cup Madrid: Croatia Knocked Out After Loss to Spain

November 20, 2019 - The Croatia tennis team will not defend their title at the Davis Cup this year. 

Gol.hr reports that the Croatia tennis team registered their second defeat in the final tournament of the new Davis Cup format. After losing to Russia 0:3 on Monday, the title defenders lost to Spain with an unreachable result of 0:2.

Roberto Bautista Agut scored the first point for Spain, beating Nikola Mektic 6:1, 6:3 in just 57 minutes of play. In the second match, Rafael Nadal, the world’s best tennis player, defeated Borna Gojo 6:4, 6:3 in 30 minutes.

Croatia was left with no prospect of reaching the quarterfinals, and thus without a chance to defend the title of Davis Cup.

Croatia needed a 3:0 win against Spain to stay in the top eight. However, without Marin Cilic, who did not travel to Madrid, and without Borna Coric, who retired from the tournament today due to exhaustion, it was nearly impossible to expect a 3:0 victory over Spain, led by Rafael Nadal.

After Coric pulled out on Tuesday, Nikola Mektic, who made his last singles appearance over two and a half years ago in the Cincinnati qualifiers, was chosen to save the day. 

Mektic and Bautista Agut, currently the ninth-best tennis player in the world, had never played one another before tonight. 

The Croatian tennis player won the first game, but that was all he showed in the rest of the set. With three breaks in 26 minutes, the Spaniard won the set with a score of 6:1. Agut continued his great series in the second set, receiving three games in a row. Mektic reduced it to 1:3, breaking Agut's nine-game streak.

By the end of the set, the 30-year-old Zagreb native no longer lost his serve, but failed to make up for the break and ended the set with a score of 6:3 for the Spaniard.

In the second match, the 21-year-old debutant for Croatia solidly resisted Nadal, especially in the first set.

Gojo held on to 4:4 in the first set, saving four break points - three in the first game and one in the seventh game. Unfortunately, in the ninth game, Nadal took away Gojo’s serve and then safely served for 6:4 after 45 minutes of play. In the second set, he lost his serve in the first and ninth games for the final score of 6:3.

Recall, the young Croatian tennis player, who played for American Wake Forest University, joined the Croatia team after Marin Cilic’s injury. 

Croatia will try to win a consolation point when Ivan Dodig and Ante Pavic face Marcel Granollers and Rafael Nadal in the final doubles match. 

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Another Hit Ahead of Davis Cup Finals: Zeljko Krajan No Longer Croatia Coach

November 10, 2019 - The Croatian Tennis Federation and the current Davis Cup team coach Zeljko Krajan ended their cooperation on Saturday, just nine days before the start of the Davis Cup finals tournament in Madrid, where Croatia will be defending the title. 

Below is the official statement of Croatian Tennis Federation (HTS) President Nikolic Babic:

''After a joint meeting of the HTS senior leadership and the players, which included, besides myself, Vice-Presidents Neven Nakic and Franc Regina, Executive Director Vlatko Jovanoski and Sports Director Jelena Kostanic Tosic, it was concluded that the Davis Cup final in Madrid would not be played under the leadership of national team coach Zeljko Krajan, and we have agreed to terminate our cooperation with him.

My thanks go to coach Krajan for all that we have accomplished and achieved together. However, as of today, we are going to a new format. After the dismissal of Marin Cilic due to injury and Ivo Karlovic’s inability to play, we decided to go to the Davis Cup in Madrid with young players with whom we want and can build the future of the Croatian tennis team. The players are in the first place, they are wholeheartedly playing for our national team and the country, and I am sure they will do their best to achieve the best result,” the statement read.

Croatia will play in a group against Spain and Russia in Madrid. The winners of the six groups and the two best runner-up teams will compete in the quarterfinals, with which the knockout phase of the competition begins. There will be two singles matches and one doubles match in each round, and winning two sets in enough for the victory. 

Zeljko Krajan originally nominated Marin Cilic, Borna Coric, Ivan Dodig, Mata Pavic and Nikola Mektic for this tournament. After Cilic's knee injury, which caused him to cancel his Davis Cup appearance, Krajan decided to contact 40-year veteran Ivo Karlovic, the next best-ranked Croatian tennis player (ATP-106), who last played for the national team in the final against Argentina in 2016 in Zagreb, where he replaced the then-poorly-recovered Borna Coric.

In the meantime, Karlovic has not accepted the trip to Madrid, as he will try to win back points at the Challenger in Houston next week among the top 100 tennis players in the world, which books direct placement in next year's Australian Open main draw.

As it is not known who will lead the national team in Madrid, it is also not known who will replace Marin Cilic. There is no one behind Karlovic until the 243rd best-ranked player on the ATP list, 29-year-old Viktor Galovic. Galovic was already a member of the national team and played in the Davis Cup (1-1). Behind him is  21-year-old Borna Gojo (ATP-279) and 22-year-old Nino Serdarusic (ATP-281). If the key argument is youth, then Gojo and Serdarusic are ahead of Galovic.

"I believe that our fans and the public will respect this decision by the players and HTS and provide support and peace to the players as they go to this important Davis Cup competition in Madrid," the HTS president concluded in an official statement.

The Croatian Tennis Federation on Monday announced they are holding a media conference in Zagreb, which will feature national team players and HTS leadership.

Source: Gol.hr, HTS

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Monday, 16 September 2019

Croatia Tennis Team to Face Austria, Argentina in Sydney for First Ever ATP Cup

September 16, 2019 - The Croatia tennis team, composed of Marin Cilic and Borna Coric, will play in Group E of the ATP Cup, set to premiere in Australia next January. Croatia will face the teams of Austria and Argentina, which was determined in a draw for the competition held on Monday in Sydney.

Slobodna Dalmacija writes that as the ATP ranking of tennis players in the singles competition determines which countries will participate in the team competition, Croatia will be led by two of the best-ranked Croatian tennis players - Borna Coric and Marin Cilic.

The best Austrian tennis player is Dominic Thiem, who is ranked 5th in the ladder released on September 9, with Dennis Novak holds the 122nd position. For Argentina, the best-ranked player is Diego Schwartzman, who was 16th on September 9, and Guido Pella, who is in 22nd place.

Twenty-four countries will participate in the ATP Cup, which will be held from January 3 to 12 in Sydney, Perth, and Brisbane. The tournament finishes eight days before the Australian Open (January 20 - February 2), the first grand slam tournament season.

The countries that have qualified for the ATP Cup based on the September 9 ATP ranking include Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, Russia, Australia, Germany, Greece, Japan, Italy, France, Belgium, Croatia, Argentina, Georgia, South Africa, USA, Canada, UK, and the host country Australia. Five more countries will be determined on November 13, also based on the ATP ranking.

Twenty-seven of the top 30 ATP players agreed to participate, including Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Andy Murray, whose protected ranking allowed Great Britain to qualify for the competition.

The competition will begin with the group stage (six groups with four teams each) followed by the quarterfinal, then the semifinal and the final. Each pair will play two singles matches and one doubles match. The two players with the best ranking from each country participate in the competition, but if changes are needed, an additional player can jump in. 

The competition grants 750 ATP points to the winner of the singles competition, which is less than the grand slam tournament (2,000 points), Masters (1,500) and Masters 1,000, but more than other tournaments. The prize pool is $15 million, or about 13.5 million euros.

Screenshot 2019-09-16 at 11.12.28.png

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Marin Čilić Foundation Presents Scholarships to First 14 Recipients

ZAGREB, December 19, 2018 - Croatia's best tennis player, Marin Čilić, on Tuesday personally presented scholarships to eight young athletes and six young musicians whom Čilić's foundation selected as its first 14 scholarship recipients.

These cash stipends can be used by recipients for several specific purposes in their further development in sports and in their education as future musicians.

The Marin Čilić Foundation, also allocated two donations – one to a primary school in the town of Čabar and the other to a secondary school in Beli Manastir – for the procurement of IT equipment.

During the scholarship-giving ceremony, Čilić said that this was a special day for him.

The director of the foundation, Nevena Mrkonjić, said that initially it had been planned to select a total of 10 recipients for scholarships designated for gifted young people. However, the foundation received 142 requests and they eventually selected the fledgling eight athletes and six musicians to receive the first scholarships from this foundation.

The foundation says on its website that it "strongly believes that every child’s potential is infinite! With adequate support, hard work and strong belief, every child can reach his/her fullest potential. Our organization seeks to provide both the space and financial support to children and youth whose circumstances make realizing their dreams seem like a distant reality."

More news on Marin Čilić can be found in our Sports section.

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