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Rune upsets Tsitsipas, Cilic ousts Medvedev for more chaos in bottom half of French Open draw

Denmark’s Holger Rune reacts as he plays against Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas during their men’s singles match on day nine of the Roland-Garros Open tennis tournament at the Court Philippe-Chatrier in Paris on May 30, 2022. (Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP) (Photo by CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP via Getty Images)

By Ricky Dimon

The likelihood of a first-time Grand Slam finalist in the bottom half of the French Open draw increased in a big way on Monday.

Perhaps that should not come as a huge surprise given how much weaker that side already was when the draw ceremony was held two weeks ago. Still, Monday’s results at Roland Garros were borderline shocking. Two of the remaining major finalists, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev, crashed out in the fourth round. After Tsitsipas succumbed to 19-year-old Holger Rune 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, the night session saw Medvedev get clobbered by Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-3, 6-2.

With that the four quarterfinalists in the bottom half are Rune, Cilic, Andrey Rublev, and Casper Ruud. Rublev is the No. 7 seed, Ruud is eighth, and Cilic is 20th. That means no one is seeded as high as anyone left in the top half–No. 1 Novak Djokovic, No. 3 Alexander Zverev, No. 5 Rafael Nadal, and No. 6 Carlos Alcaraz.

“Obviously now but even before the tournament, there was of course already a lot of talk who the favorite was,” said Ruud, who defeated Hubert Hurkacz 6-2, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 on Monday. “I think everyone was talking about the top half of the draw with Nadal, Djokovic, and Alcaraz there.

“Let’s see who will be in the final on Sunday. But we all need to play one match at a time. I have just been focused and been in a good mindset this tournament…. Today I think I played some of my best tennis this year for the first two sets. (The) fourth set I played well when I had to come back (from a break down).

“I think that’s a perfect way going into a quarterfinal for me. Hopefully I can reach a step or two or three more.”

Casper Ruud of Norway plays a forehand at Roland Garros. (Photo by Andy Cheung/Getty Images)

Next up for the 23-year-old Norwegian is Rune, who has lost all three of their previous encounters (all on clay). Wednesday’s other quarterfinal pits Cilic against Rublev, who advanced via a third-set retirement from Jannik Sinner. Rublev (0-4 in quarterfinals), Ruud, and Rune have never reached a slam semi. Cilic is the exception, as he won the 2014 U.S. Open and has also finished runner-up at both Wimbledon and the Australian Open.

But at 33 years old and once seemingly past his prime, Cilic would arguably be the most surprising finalist of the bottom-half quartet. After he crushed Medvedev, though, why not?

At this point we should expect the unexpected.

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