Sarajevo: Marin Cilic's first Wimbledon semi-final against American Sam Querrey will be greeted with great excitement in his hometown, a famous Catholic pilgrimage site in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Cilic, the world number six, was born in Medjugorje — a town made popular due to alleged apparitions of the Virgin Mary — but represents Croatia after moving to the neighbouring country as a teenager to further his career.
His parents though still live in Cilic's birthplace, with some 20,000 people celebrating in Medjugorje when he won the 2014 US Open, his lone Grand Slam title.
"We improvised at the time, we celebrated two or three days after the final when Marin arrived to Medjugorje," said Zeljko Dodig, head of the local tennis club where Cilic started to play.
Another party is planned in Medjugorje if Cilic wins this year's Wimbledon title, although Dodig told AFP nothing has been prepared yet with two matches still to play.
"We would have to see if he would be available to come here in the coming days."
Cilic, hoping to reach his second major final, has won all four previous meetings with 24th seed Querrey, including two at Wimbledon in 2009 and 2012.
Querrey defeated defending champion Andy Murray in the quarter-finals, while the 28-year-old Cilic beat Luxembourg's Gilles Muller with the help of 33 aces.
He is the third Croatian man to reach the last four at Wimbledon after Goran Ivanisevic — the 2001 champion — and Mario Ancic.
Cilic's parents are eagerly awaiting their son's semi-final at their Medjugorje home.
"I feel great, how else could I feel!" his father Zdenko told the Croatian Sportske novosti paper.
Cilic's progress to the semi-finals dominated Croatian papers on Thursday.
"Cilic goes till the end!" read the Sportske novosti front page headline while the Vecernji list wrote "Cilic goes towards the top".
Published Date: Jul 13, 2017 09:01 pm | Updated Date: Jul 13, 2017 10:23 pm