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Marin Cilic enjoys a burger when he plays in the United States and loves pasta when in Italy.

Food Court: 'Simple Guy' Cilic Dishes On His Diet, Food He Hasn't Eaten In 10 Years

Croatian reveals his match-day nutritional routine

Marin Cilic put on one of the most impressive performances of this Roland Garros on Monday when he dismissed second seed Daniil Medvedev in straight sets to reach the quarter-finals. The Croatian will play Andrey Rublev for a spot in the last four at the clay-court major.

Cilic recently spoke to ATPTour.com about his cooking skills, guilty pleasures, his nutritional routine on match day, the food he has not eaten in 10 years and more. 

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Let’s say you have to cook tonight, whether for yourself or for friends. What would you cook and why?
I would cook veal shank. I love that the most and in Croatia it is incredible. Mix that up with potatoes and vegetables in a nice sauce and that is going to melt in the fingers. Just have a regular sauce that comes out of the meat. Leave the meat for a few hours, it is great.

How would you rate your cooking skills?
I would say that I am a good cook for what I need to eat and that is it! Eggs, crepes, pasta, rice and chicken. Carbs and protein and that is it.

What’s your guilty pleasure?
I like a burger here and there. When I come to the United States the first meal is always a burger. Then if I happen to be in a good restaurant where I know burgers are really good, that is a go-to cheat meal. For [something] sweet, I love pancakes. It is not easy to find the real crepes with the Nutella and when I am back home I have them.

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What is your go-to meal the night before a match?
I would load with carbs and eat a little bit of protein. That is always chicken or turkey. It is a little bit quicker [to cook] than the red meat and has a little less fat in it. Before a match in Italy I like pasta with tomato sauce and a little bit of chicken, 150 grams or so, so I have a little bit of protein and don’t get hungry too much. Then if the match before me gets extended, I eat another plate of pasta.

That is Italy — it is pasta. All the other tournaments it is mostly rice. They don’t make the pasta as well, so I prefer rice elsewhere.

What do you eat right before a match and how many hours before the match do you eat it?
I normally eat one hour and a half to one hour and 15 minutes before so I can eat a good meal. If the match gets extended, I might eat a banana or top up the main [meal] a bit.

What do you snack on during a match? Has that changed over the years and if so, what did you eat before?
I have a pretty simple routine. Just drinking my electrolytes and having a carb gel and then eating a banana. I am a simple guy, nothing fancy.

What might you eat during a non-tournament week that you wouldn’t during a tournament?
When I am at home I relax because I get stuffed up eating the same thing all the time. The worst thing about being a tennis player is when you have to eat and you are not ready to eat. For example, say your match is at 12 p.m., you eat breakfast and then warm up and then you need to eat before the match, like pasta or rice at 10:30 a.m. It is one of the tougher things to being on Tour.

I try to take care of the carb and protein intake but sometimes I just forget about it. When I get home I want to have pizza or something simple. In the evening I might just have three eggs with some cheese and ham, simple stuff. Also a yogurt. It is not easy to eat big meals all the time.

If you go to one of your favourite restaurants, what would you order?
I like a good steak. There is an Italian restaurant at home and they do huge portions and they know my stuff. Rice mixed with vegetables and carrots and chicken.

What is something people might be surprised to hear you enjoy?
This year in Australia, when we were there, we ordered Indian food maybe 10 times. Butter chicken and chicken biryani, and I enjoyed it.

When I got home I told my wife ‘OK, we need to find a recipe for butter chicken’, and she did it and it was fantastic. So this year, I have eaten quite a lot of Indian food.

What is the best meal from your culture/country?
Because Croatia is diverse, we have a lot. The Mediterranean is a little bit similar to Italy. Then the continental part is a little bit heavier. Then we have BBQ food and minced meat and food like this. It is pretty heavy food.

What are foods you refuse to eat?
This junk food, I really don’t like to eat it often. I haven’t eaten anything fried for more than 10 years. Nothing fried. When I see it, I am like ‘No’.