So far the evening sessions at Roland Garros were quite a success. Rhythm, atmosphere, suspense matches… Until Monday, May 30, which saw Daniil Medvedev and Marin Cilic face off on center court. Because their first confrontation on clay did not thrill many people.
Archi-dominated for more than 1h30, the Russian was under no illusions against the number 20 seed, losing in three straight sets (6-2, 6-3, 6-2). Under the dumbfounded eyes of his French coach, Gilles Cervara, the world number two was only a shadow of himself. His hernia operation at the beginning of April is undoubtedly not unrelated to this difficult evening, Medvedev not having been able to prepare for this season in the best possible way. Quarter-finalist last year, he logically gave up his ticket for the next round to the Croatian, who beat Gilles Simon in the previous round.
1. For the first time in his career, @cilic_marin dominated a member of the Top 10 at Roland Garros! The Croatian had lost the first 10 matches having opposed him to a Top 10 at #Roland Garros (winning only 3 sets out of the 33 disputed). pic.twitter.com/Tvwy6ERgW0
— Game, Set and Maths (@JeuSetMaths) May 30, 2022
Carried by his first service ball (88% of points won on his first service), the seeded number 20 showed consistency against an opponent completely overwhelmed. Marin Cilic will challenge Andrey Rublev, seeded number seven, for a place in the last four Porte d’Auteuil.
Before that, however, there was a more promising start to the match between the two men. The first break point of the game at 3-2 in favor of the Croatian was the first turning point. After a dantesque exchange of more than 20 shots, Cilic won the rally and offered himself a first opportunity to take his opponent’s serve. The Russian’s unforced backhand mistake then gave him the advantage, which materialized a few minutes later (6-2, 29 minutes into the game).
The two sets that followed then experienced the same scenario: a quick and easy break in favor of the Croatian which unfolded, well helped by the too many unforced errors of his opponent (28 over the whole match), already the mind elsewhere.
— Prime Video Sport France (@PVSportFR) May 30, 2022
In the mixed zone, Marin Cilic looked back on his first victory against Daniil Medvedev: “I have a good feeling from Madrid [où il avait battu Albert Ramos-Vinolas avant de s’incliner en trois sets face à Alexander Zverev], tonight I felt good on the court, I moved well, strategically I respected what I wanted to put in place. I stayed focused after winning the first set easily, and after breaking in the second. Against Andrew [Rublev] it’s going to be a different game. We know each other very well, it’s not going to be easy.”
Again, the Croatian will not start as a favorite against a player who leads 4 wins to 2 against him. But, this time, he will be able to rely on some additional grounds for hope. His level of play has already taken on a whole new dimension on the surface since the start of the tournament. And another statistic will be able to support his confidence: the only time the two men faced each other on clay, it was he who won (4-6, 7-6, 6-1, in Geneva, in 2015).