Zagreb: US Open champion Marin Cilic, who will compete in the 2014 China Open tennis later this month, said, "I always feel like home in China and I hope I can win some more there".
"I am travelling to China a little earlier than usual because I will do some promotional activities for Li Ning and because I want to have at least five days of practice to adjust to courts and balls," Cilic was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
Cilic always loves competing in Beijing where he was a two-time finalist, in 2009 and 2011. The 2014 China Open will run from Sep 27 to Oct 5.
"China is always one of the countries that I really like to travel to. The reception is always nice, people from Li Ning are always there to help me. I always feel good there. I feel like at home," Cilic said.
After his triumph in this year's US Open, Cilic was greeted by more than 20,000 people last Tuesday in his hometown Medjugorje in Herzegovina region, the South-western part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, where his journey began almost 20 years ago. That was the time when he got his first racquet.
But celebration time is coming to an end. It's time for Cilic to get back on the circuit again.
"I am not tired of tennis. It seems to me that I've spent more energy in the last two weeks on celebrations and other activities that I did on the way to win the trophy in New York," Cilic said.
"Probably there will be more people that would want to meet me. When I won the US Open title I received a huge number of messages through the Weibo social network so I expect a different kind of welcome this time," he said.
With the level of tennis he was playing in New York, Cilic will be among the favorites to win titles at the tournament in Beijing and at Shanghai Rolex Masters next month.
"Of course, I have a lot of expectations from this two tournaments. I've always played good here, especially in Beijing, where I made it to the finals on two occasions. Now, with this kind of self confidence that I got from winning the US Open title, I hope I can win some more in China."
This will be his first trip to those tournaments in two years. Last year, he was forced to miss Beijing and Shanghai due to a doping ban.
"The support I got from Li Ning during that time was amazing. Everyone that I was in contact with where nothing but supportive and they never had any doubts about my innocence, not for a second. Even when I was banned from playing the company honoured every financial obligation from the contract. It meant lot to me to receive that kind of support and I tried even more because of that. I wanted to give them something in return."
While Cilic became a new champion at the US Open, two best Chinese male players Wu Di and Zhang Ze almost qualified for the main draw which would be a big result for Chinese men. With Li Ning as his main sponsor Cilic's success on the tennis court might have some impact on the development of male Chinese tennis players.
"I might have something to do with it but not that much. The Chinese girls, Na Li and the others, are the ones who did so much for the popularity of tennis in China. I know how much they are investing in tennis."
"They want to have best coaches so my former coach Bob Brett was involved and he was working with some promising kids. The girls have reached the top level and men are getting better and better each year," he said.