LONDON—When Wimbledon started, Marin Cilic was looking at a draw that could have pitted him against Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals and Andy Murray in the semifinals.
Both of them are two-time champions at the All England Club, and both of them are now out of the tournament.
“I was obviously following them [Nadal and Murray] and following all the rest of the guys,” said Cilic, the US Open champion in 2014. “But for me, it didn’t make a big difference. It’s not going to make big difference.”
Cilic reached the semifinals on Wednesday by beating Gilles Muller, 3-6, 7-6 (6), 7-5, 5-7, 6-1. He will next face Sam Querrey on Friday.
Muller defeated Nadal in five sets on Monday in the fourth round, and Querrey beat Murray in five sets on Wednesday.
“Players at this stage of the tournament are playing great tennis. You can’t take that for granted,” Cilic said. “The only part that it could be easier for me is that Sam hasn’t been at this part of the tournament so far…. Maybe that can have a small part in playing that match. But I don’t think it’s going to matter big time.”
Cilic has also never been this far, at Wimbledon at least. He won his only major title three years ago in New York, beating Roger Federer in the semifinals and Kei Nishikori in the final. But at Wimbledon, he had lost in the quarterfinals the last three years.
Two of those losses came against Novak Djokovic, but he’s also out of the tournament. That only leaves Federer, the man who beat Cilic in the quarterfinals last year, if both get through their semifinal matches.
“Yeah, I would agree it’s quite early,” Cilic said about a possible rematch against Federer. “Still a huge match in front of me and in front of Roger, as well.”
Muller came into Wednesday’s match with history against him. The last six players to beat Nadal before the final at the All England Club all lost in the next round. It happened to Muller in 2005, and it happened to him again on No. 1 Court on Wednesday.
“I don’t think the match [against Nadal] had an impact,” Muller said. “I think I did my job pretty well after that match to stay focused, didn’t try to let all the hype around me take any effect.”
Thanks to Muller’s victory on Monday, Cilic won’t have to worry about the “Nadal effect” in his next match against the 24th-seeded Querrey.
Querrey’s road, however, doesn’t get much easier by playing Cilic.
“Marin is ranked, like, 5,” the American said, mistakenly moving Cilic up a spot from his No. 6 ranking. “He’s right outside of the ‘Big Four’. That’s going to be a tough one.”
Cilic and Querrey have played twice before at Wimbledon, with the Croat winning in five sets in 2009 and 2012. The latter, in which Cilic won the final set 17-15, lasted five-and-a-half hours and is the second-longest men’s singles match in Wimbledon history.
“We played few times. Most of the matches were very tight, quite long, especially here,” Cilic said. “He’s got a big game. Potentially that can hurt anyone in the game.”