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Ricky’s • Tennis Balls Picks for Paris Monday• French Open

Andrey Rublev of Russia meets Italian Jannik Sinner at Roland Garros. EPA-EFE/JOHN G MABANGLO

By Ricky Dimon

The up-for-grabs bottom half of the French Open draw will be back in action on Monday, headlined by Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev. Medvedev meets Marin Cilic, while Rublev is set for a big-hitting showdown with Jannik Sinner.

Here are my previews and picks for the two matchups.

(7) Andrey Rublev vs. (11) Jannik Sinner

Considering what’s at stake, Rublev vs. Sinner is arguably the marquee matchup of the entire French Open fourth round. Both players are in search of their first true Grand Slam breakthrough of their careers, and this particular draw could not afford a better opportunity. Although Monday’s matchup is a rough one on paper for each man, whoever wins will have a real chance of reaching a major final for the first time.

For Rublev, a slam semifinal (he is 0-4 lifetime in quarterfinals) or a Masters 1000 title is the next piece to his career puzzle. The world No. 7 looks poised to accomplish at least one of those feats in 2022, as even though he may not be in absolute peak form he boasts a 28-7 record this season. So far in Paris he has ousted Soonwoo Kwon, Federico Delbonis, and Cristian Garin all in four sets. Sinner has improved to an awesome 27-6 this year with victories over Bjorn Fratangelo, Roberto Carballes Baena, and Mackenzie McDonald–dropping just one set to Carballes Baena in the process. Unfortunately for Sinner, his 2022 campaign would be even better if not for numerous physical problems. He picked up another one against McDonald in the form of an apparent left-knee injury. It doesn’t seem terrible, but if the Italian is anything less than 100 percent against Rublev it won’t be enough.

Pick: Rublev in 4

Daniil Medvedev plays for a Roland Garros quarterfinal return. (Photo by Tnani Badredine/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

(20) Marin Cilic vs. (2) Daniil Medvedev

Both Medvedev and Cilic are in resurgent form–Medvedev following a month’s absence because of a hernia and Cilic following a multi-year slump. The result is a somewhat surprising fourth-round encounter at Roland Garros on Monday. Their only previous Grand Slam meeting went the five-set distance, with Medvedev surviving 6-7(3), 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 at Wimbledon last summer. The 26-year-old is sweeping the overall head-to-head series 3-0, having also prevailed 6-4, 7-6(7) at the 2019 Washington, D.C. event and 7-6(7), 6-2 during Davis Cup competition last fall.

Aside from a first-set hiccup for Cilic against Marton Fucsovics in round two, both guys have been absolutely destroying opponents in Paris. The 33-year-old Croat opened with a 6-0, 6-1, 6-2 beatdown of Attila Balazs and ended Gilles Simon’s French Open career on Saturday (6-0, 6-3, 6-2). Medvedev did not drop more than four games in any set during week one while disposing of Facundo Bagnis, Laslo Djere, and Miomir Kecmanovic. The world No. 2’s 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 whitewash of an in-form Kecmanovic was especially impressive. Given Medvedev’s level and his history of success against Cilic, this should be a mostly straightforward result for the favorite.

Pick: Medvedev in 4

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.