Day 11: Three things to look out for

Four more quarter-finals and whatever the outcome there are some firsts in store

Iga Swiatek, Roland-Garros 2022, Simple Dames, 1/8 de Finale, Philippe Montigny / FFT
 - Simon Cambers

The semi-final line-ups will be decided at this year’s Roland-Garros on Wednesday and of the eight players in action, only two have been that far in a Slam before.

There’s an all Scandinavian quarter-final between Casper Ruud and Holger Rune, while veteran Marin Cilic, playing the best tennis of his Roland-Garros career, faces Andrey Rublev.

On the women's side, top seed Iga Swiatek takes on Jessica Pegula and Daria Kasatkina meets Veronika Kudermetova.

Here’s what we’re looking forward to:

Can anyone stop Iga?

For one set in their fourth-round battle, Zheng Qinwen matched Swiatek - something very few players have managed to do over the past few months as the Pole has dominated the women’s tour.

But as 31 previous opponents in a row found out, doing it over a long period of time is nigh impossible and that’s the task facing Pegula when she plays the world No.1 in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Swiatek, who turned 21 on Tuesday, was rattled, no doubt, in that first set against Zheng, but as the Chinese battled injury and stomach cramps, as she later revealed, the Pole showed her strength as she pulled away for victory.

The question now is whether Pegula can push her even further?

Twice a quarter-finalist at the Australian Open in the last two years, Pegula has enjoyed her best season on clay and is a durable, obdurate opponent who is good enough to take advantage should Swiatek show any sign of feeling the pressure.

Pegula also owns one win back in 2019 from two meetings with Swiatek but the world No.1 remains favourite and in difficult situations, as she showed against Zheng, she finds a way out.

Being No.1, too, is something she seems to thrive on.

“Maybe that I can put more pressure on my opponents,” she said, of the benefits of being top of the pile.

“I feel more pressure, so that is not enjoyable. But I have been doing well with that, I think.”

First-time RG men’s semi-final spots up for grabs

When the draw was made for this year’s men’s singles, Ruud would have been many people’s pick to make it through to the quarter-finals, thanks to his outstanding pedigree on the surface.

Few, perhaps, would have expected Rune to be the man facing him.

The 19-year-old Dane, who believes he will be No.1 one day and who wants to play Roger Federer before the Swiss ends his career, beat Denis Shapovalov and last year’s finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas to reach the last eight.

The two men have already met three times on tour, with the more experienced Ruud winning all three.

But, and it’s a big but, two were last year when Rune was still learning the ropes, and the third was a tight battle in Monte-Carlo this year, when the Norwegian won 7-6(5), 7-5.

History is on the line for these two; neither Norway nor Denmark has had a men’s semi-finalist at Roland-Garros.

There will be nerves, for sure, but Rune said he will go into their match, which will be the night session, with confidence.

“I think the match we can use the most is definitely Monte-Carlo this year in the start of the clay season,” said the 19-year-old Dane.

“It was a great match, I think. It was very close. I had a lot of chances, and didn't really take them. But of course Casper is very confident also on the clay, and I am, too.

“So it's for sure going to be a great battle. I believe my chances good, and so does he, I think. It's for sure going to be a great battle. Casper, of course in the ranking he's the favourite obviously. Also that he beat me the last times. So that makes him the favourite.

“But it's a new match. It's a new environment, a new court, new everything. Let’s see what happens.”

Ruud said he’s trying to put what he’s done so far out of his mind and focus only on Rune.

“I'm still in tournament mode and not really thinking too much about all these things, about the history and all these milestone and stuff,” said the eighth-seeded Norwegian.

“Of course it's a nice feeling. I want to continue playing well and hope that I can reach even one more step.”

The other men’s quarter-final sees Cilic up against Rublev, with former US Open champion Cilic playing perhaps the best clay-court tennis of his life.

Twice a Roland-Garros quarter-finalist, in 2017 and 2018, he ripped apart world No.2 Daniil Medvedev in the fourth round and the former junior champion is on a roll and loving every minute.

"It was an absolutely fantastic match from the first point to the last," Cilic said of his win over Medvedev.

“I enjoyed the atmosphere, enjoyed the night session here. I played incredible tennis — one of the best matches of my career from start to finish."

Rublev, chasing a first Grand Slam semi-final spot after a series of quarter-final efforts, has won four of their six meetings.

Cilic won their only clay-court encounter back in 2015, when Rublev was just starting out but the Croat will also take heart from the fact he won their last match, too, at this year’s Australian Open.

The Cilic serve has been firing, too, broken just four times in 54 service games while Rublev dropped a set in each of his four matches.

Andrey Rublev, huitièmes de finale, Roland-Garros 2022©Nicolas Gouhier / FFT

New milestones in store for Kasatkina or Kudermetova

The return to top form of Kasatkina in the past 12 months has been one of the most enjoyable stories on the WTA tour.

Ranked in the top 10 in 2018, the world No.20 reached the last eight in Paris and Wimbledon in 2018 only to fall off the face of the earth, seemingly, in the next year as her form deserted her.

It was only after tennis resumed following the five-month break due to the Covid-19 pandemic that she began to resurface and in 2022, she looks back to her best, making the semi-finals in Rome and now the last eight in Paris, without dropping a set or losing more than three games in a set.

No.29 seed Kudermetova is through to the quarter-finals of a Slam for the first time, having previously never gone past the third round.

The 25-year-old took out an injury-hit Paula Badosa, who retired a set and a break down in their third-round match, while she showed great resolve and consistency to beat Madison Keys in three sets in the subsequent round.

“Some things you can’t explain,” said Kudermetova. “Something meant to happen, something don't. So we will see if this one is waiting for me. Let's see. I hope it is yes and I will do everything for that.”

Veronika Kudermetova, Roland-Garros 2022, Simple Dames, 1/8 de Finale, Philippe Montigny / FFT