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Cilic Delivers Latest French Open Surprise, Beating Medvedev

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PARIS — Two days after being encouraged by his clay-court game — and with good reason — Daniil Medvedev, the world’s No. 2 men’s singles player, was bounced out of the French Open on Monday in only 1 hour 45 minutes.

There have been some boos as Medvedev, his bag slung over his shoulder, trudged off the red clay of the Philippe Chatrier Court after his 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 defeat by the Twentieth-seeded Marin Cilic within the fourth round.

The discontent was comprehensible. Paying greater than 100 euros (about $107) — or way more — for a night-session ticket and being left with a blowout will generate some grumbles.

However the lopsided rating and brisk pace were also because of Cilic’s sustained brilliance. Though clay just isn’t traditionally his best surface, he could have fooled Medvedev as he served and attacked with precise power and near-relentless efficiency.

Cilic won 90 percent of his first-serve points, and Medvedev, a wonderful returner, could never muster a break point. Despite being nicknamed the Wall, Medvedev kept crumbling first in rallies of all lengths, particularly the mid-length ones.

Cilic won 26 of the 36 exchanges that lasted between five and eight strokes — an enormous margin against a baseliner of Medvedev’s abilities. He also broke Medvedev’s big serve five times under the brilliant lights, sometimes leaving Medvedev flat-footed on the baseline as he crushed a return winner.

It was, to sum it up, one tall former U.S. Open champion in a state of grace and one other in a state of disarray.

“A completely improbable match from the primary point to the last,” Cilic said in his rumbling baritone voice. “The most effective matches of my profession from start to complete.”

That is sort of a comment from a player like Cilic, a 33-year-old Croatian who has played nearly 900 singles matches on tour and who won the 2014 U.S. Open and has reached finals at Wimbledon and the Australian Open.

His run in Latest York in 2014 was proof of what he could do when his big game began clicking. After prevailing in a five-set match against Gilles Simon within the fourth round, Cilic switched gears and defeated Tomas Berdych, Roger Federer and Kei Nishikori without losing a set.

Guess whom Cilic beat within the third round at Roland Garros on Saturday? Simon, in his final match on the French Open, by the rating of 6-0, 6-3, 6-2.

Shortly after Monday’s rout of Medvedev, Simon tweeted: “I assumed that he wasn’t missing much,” referring to Cilic’s level of their match.

Does 2014 come into Cilic’s mind at a time like this?

“Each day. Each day,” Cilic answered. “It’s so difficult to return up to now, how I felt mentally, how I felt on the court. You only feel different, and it’s just staying within the moment. I’m doing good things on the court, and good things within the training off the court with my team, so it’s just trusting that and having good confidence. That’s most significant.”

Cilic will face Andrey Rublev, Russia’s second-ranked player, within the quarterfinals on Wednesday. Rublev, typically more comfortable on clay than Medvedev, advanced when Jannik Sinner, his Italian opponent, retired early within the third set on Monday with a left knee injury he sustained when pushing off along with his left leg to serve.

Sinner, limping and with tape below his knee, retired with Rublev leading, 1-6, 6-4, 2-0, and covered his face as he walked into the tunnel resulting in the locker room.

The quarterfinal lineup is now set, and there is simply one unseeded player remaining: the 19-year-old Holger Rune, who upset Stefanos Tsitsipas, the No. 4 seed, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

After a primary week short on surprises in the lads’s singles draw, Monday modified the tone, and Rune, of Denmark, will now face one other Nordic player: Casper Ruud, a Norwegian seeded eighth.

But though Ruud broke into the highest 10 last yr, winning five titles, this shall be the primary Grand Slam quarterfinal for each Ruud and Rune, a matchup which, it have to be said, has quite a hoop to it.

“To make my first quarterfinal here in Roland Garros means rather a lot,” said Ruud, whose father and coach, Christian, also played within the French Open. “It’s the primary Grand Slam that I visited as a child. It’s nice to get one among my best results of my profession up to now here.”

Medvedev couldn’t win a match in his first 4 appearances on the French Open and made light of the situation before last yr’s tournament, saying that his goal was to win one round.

He managed to win 4 on his method to the quarterfinals then but fell just wanting matching that performance this yr.

Cilic has equaled his best result at Roland Garros along with his run to the ultimate eight and will not be done yet if he can proceed to hit his serves and groundstrokes the best way he did under the lights.

Despite struggling for much of the last three seasons, he’s, at age 33, back to feeling good about his game after shuffling his support team. He spoke on Monday night about playing on for several more years.

“Absolutely, I’m feeling young,” Cilic said. “My doctor said I’m like 25 in my body, so possibly one other 12 years.”

With that and a smile, Cilic took his leave.

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