London: Marin Cilic said Monday it would be "dangerous" to raise his expectations too high as he began his first tournament since his confidence-boosting maiden Grand Slam victory earlier this month.
The US Open winner said he was keen to ease the pressure on his shoulders, despite being hotly tipped at the China Open since his crushing 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Japan`s Kei Nishikori in New York.
"Most important for myself is also not to put too many expectations on my own shoulders from my own side," said the fourth seed in Beijing, adding he was aiming "not to ask too much out of myself".
"That can be dangerous in a process if things are not working the best I want them to."
The world number nine defeated Chinese wildcard Yan Bai 6-3, 6-4 in his opening game in Beijing Monday, but was brought to break point on his first two service games.
The 26-year-old Croatian said he was still "rusty", playing his first game since the US Open final, but was keen to maintain the high standards he showed in New York.
"It`s going to be a process for me, for sure, on all the tournaments to keep my level of the game at the high point where I want it to be," he said.
"I know it`s always difficult to start tournaments. You know, players are always looking at you much more. I think it`s important for me to keep focusing on improvement of my game and try to, of course, recreate the game I was playing in the US Open."
A good run in Beijing would greatly improve Cilic`s chances of qualifying for the ATP World Tour Finals in November.
The China Open runner up in 2009 and 2011 is currently in fifth position in the race for the London tournament and must remain in the top eight if he is to make the season finale for the first time.
The world`s top three players -- Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer -- have already confirmed their places for London.
The China Open is being held at the Olympic Park in the Chinese capital and will reach its climax on October 5.