Monte Carlo (Principality of Monaco) (AFP) - Croatia's Marin Cilic said on Sunday he has his sights set on the top of the world rankings after his recent rise to number three.
Defending champion Rafael Nadal has to win the Monte Carlo Masters this week to retain the world number one spot ahead of Roger Federer.
But with Federer once again skipping the claycourt season, former US Open winner Cilic believes becoming the world's best player is a realistic goal after an excellent start to the year.
"I think it (No. 1 ranking) is (within reach), it's where I'm aiming at, it's my ultimate goal," said Cilic.
"I'm working for that every single day, week, month... It's easier when I have that distant thing in front of me that keeps my motivation high."
With injuries plaguing Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray this season, Cilic sees an opportunity, especially after reaching two of the last three Grand Slam finals.
A blister hampered his chances against a red-hot Federer in the Wimbledon final last year, but he came up just short with a five-set loss to the Swiss great at January's Australian Open.
"At home in my bedroom I still have a small interview that I made when I was 13 years old and the headline was 'one day I hope to be in Wimbledon'," Cilic said.
"When you get to that stage you obviously change your targets and things change.
"I have achieved a lot in my career, but to be number one I wouldn't put it as a dream, I would put it as something that I'm dedicated to doing. It's part of my job and part of my process to get there."
Cilic is seeded second in Monte Carlo as he looks to build on a promising claycourt campaign last year that saw him reach quarter-finals in Monaco, Rome and at the French Open.
He said that entering Monte Carlo as the second seed means that his expectations are higher than in previous years.
"(Being) seeded two straight away sets up a different look at the tournament, different expectations as well," Cilic added.
"Now I'm in a position when I come into any tournament feeling like I can go deep, and also with my game at the moment that's the feel on the court as well."
As second seed, Cilic cannot play Nadal or former world number one Djokovic until the final this week, and will take on either Fernando Verdasco or Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas in his opening match.