Chennai:After taming the giant-killer Somdev Devvarman in the final of the Chennai Open on Sunday, Marin Cilic says the Indian player had the potential to break into the top 100 by the end of the season.
The Croatian world number 27 inflicted a 6-4, 7-6 (3) defeat on Somdev to lift his second ATP singles title but spoke highly of his opponent.
"He is of course a very good potential and going to be in top 150 and would have much more confident to work his way for points in Challengers and ATP levels.
"I would say that he is going to be at least in the top 100 by the end of the year looking from this tournament and the way he was playing," Cilic said at the post-match press conference.
Cilic said though he did not play his best tennis, he was delighted at beginning the season on a winning a note.
"It is great to start here this way. I was working hard during my half season for another six weeks. It paid off in this first week. I played off first week and confident going in to Australia.
"I would say that it was not my best in the tournament but I would say that in crucial moment I played better, especially on the break points in the second set tie break," he said.
Asked about his strategy for the final, he said, "What I saw in his couple of matches that he was pretty good to the court not missing a lot and stepping inside the court and playing aggressively. My plan was also to be aggressive and put him on the back foot and play my game over his back hand."
However, the Croat admitted it was tough to keep focus and a player like Somdev just added to woes.
"I was mostly servicing my second serves to his weak backhand and in some situations it was difficult also to be focussed. So I had to struggle a lot and play lot of rallies and try to put him on back foot.
"In the end it was good for me. He was moving good and not missing. I had to wait for my chances to be in good positions.
"I was going up and down with my game little bit but I got my concentration in the crucial moments during the break points. I also lost bit of my concentration on my serves, just few points decided that the set is going in to tie breaker," he said.
Cilic said he was now flying directly to Melbourne to play in the Australian Open. He will also play some exhibition matches before the first Grand Slam of the year.