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Ricky’s tennis picks for the French Open quarterfinals: Ruud vs. Rune and Rublev vs. Cilic

Casper Ruud of Norway takes on Holger Rune of Denmark in the Roland Garros quarterfinals. (Photo by Andy Cheung/Getty Images)

y Ricky Dimon

There are no top-four seeds remaining in the bottom half of the draw, so a spot in the final is there for the taking. The last unseeded player in the field, Holger Rune, is facing Casper Ruud and Andrey Rublev is going up against Marin Cilic.

Here are my previews and picks for the two matchups.

(8) Casper Ruud vs. Holger Rune

It will be an all- Scandinavian quarterfinal when Ruud and Rune go head-to-head on Wednesday night. Ruud is sweeping the head-to-head series 3-0, but there is no reason for Rune to be discouraged. After getting crushed on clay last season in Monte-Carlo and Bastad, the 19-year-old was much more competitive last month in Monte-Carlo with a 7-6(5), 7-5 loss.

Rune is rising fast and has to be an even more confident player than he was at the beginning of this clay-court swing. The Dane is up to 40th in the rankings and he will climb to No. 28 even if he loses this match. So far at Roland-Garros he has ousted Denis Shapovalov, Henri Laaksonen, Hugo Gaston, and Stefanos Tsitsipas–dropping just one set to Tsitsipas in the process. Ruud booked his spot in a first Grand Slam quarterfinal by beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Emil Ruusuvuori, Lorenzo Sonego, and Hubert Hurkacz. Only the match against Ruusuvuori was a straight-setter, but the eighth-ranked Norwegian has consistently raised his level when it has mattered most. That will once again be the key against Rune, who may be the more naturally talented player with superior firepower but would likely be in trouble physically if it turns into a prolonged affair. As long as Ruud doesn’t get blown off the court quickly, he should have the edge late.

Pick: Ruud in 5

(7) Andrey Rublev vs.(20) Marin Cilic

Cilic was already turning back the clock even before he arrived in Paris, but nothing forecasted this kind of level. The 33-year-old Croat is back in a major quarterfinal for the first time since the 2018 U.S. Open thanks to victories over Attila Balazs, Marton Fucsovics, Gilles Simon, and Daniil Medvedev. Only Fucsovics has managed to take a set, and Cilic was especially impressive during a 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 rout of Medvedev on Monday night. The world No. 23 will break back into the top 20 next week regardless of what happens the rest of the way.

Up next for Cilic on Wednesday afternoon is a seventh encounter with Rublev. The head-to-head series stands at 4-2 in favor of the 24-year-old and they have squared off only once on clay (Cilic prevailed 4-6, 7-6(7), 6-1 at the 2015 Geneva event). They most recently collided earlier this season at the Australian Open, where Rublev went down 7-5, 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-3. The world No. 7 gets another shot in this matchup following wins this fortnight over Soonwoo Kwon, Federico Delbonis, Cristian Garin, and Jannik Sinner (via retirement). Rublev was certainly fortunate against Sinner, who dominated their opening set 6-1 before being undone by a knee injury. Whereas Cilic is on an absolute roll, Rublev has been far from dominant this fortnight. If the 20th seed plays anywhere close to the way he did against Medvedev, his offense will be too much for Rublev–just as it was in Melbourne.

Pick: Cilic in 4

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.