Former US Open winner Tracy Austin has backed Marin Cilic as a surprise contender to finish the year as the new number one, if he can manage to be consistent.

The Croatian is currently sitting in the third place of the ATP ranking, while Roger Federer progressed to the become the new world No.1 replacing Rafael Nadal. The Swiss tennis star is currently taking part in the 2018 Rotterdam Open and has reached the semi-final of the tournament defeating Robin Haase 4-6 6-1 6-1.

The 36-year-old has beaten Andre Agassi's record as the oldest top ranked player.

Cilic, who won the US Open in 2014, has made it to two more Grand Slam finals. He lost both the matches to Federer, with the first one being at the 2017 Wimbledon and most recently at the 2018 Australian Open.

Cilic's form since last year shows that he has improved over the years, the 55-year-old former tennis star said, explaining why she backs the one-time Grand Slam winner over Nadal to beat Federer for the No.1 spot.

"Maybe Cilic might come forward. He's No 3. Got to two finals last year. Seems to be getting better and seems to be maturing," Austin told Tennis.com, as quoted by the Express.

"His consistency is what I worry about. It's a really fascinating concept to figure out in February."

Meanwhile, Austin has been named as the Tournament Honoree for the 118th Ojai Tennis Tournament that will take place in April. Ojai Valley Tennis Club president, Carolyn Burke, is delighted to have the California-born former tennis star as the Tournament Honoree for this year's event.

"The 118th edition of The Ojai Tennis Tournament is going to be our best tournament yet. We are so excited to welcome Tracy Austin back to The Ojai as our tournament honoree and special guest at our annual fundraising event on April 27 at the Topa Mountain Winery," Burke explained, as quoted by the Tennis View Mag.

"Our community was tested by the Thomas Fire, but we are resilient and strong! We are happy to be working together to create a memorable tournament that we know both players and fans will enjoy!"

Roger Federer
Roger Federer became the new world no.1 on 16 February Getty