Day 7 Diary: Cilic honours Simon

Former No.3 ends Frenchman's final campaign as Swiatek declines hot ticket

Gilles Simon, Marin Cilic, Roland-Garros 2022, third round© Loïc Wacziak/FFT
 - Dan Imhoff and Chris Oddo

Marin Cilic is proving as sharp on the court as off it in his 16th Roland-Garros this year.

The former world No.3 brought the curtain down on French legend Gilles Simon’s Roland-Garros career on Saturday, 6-0, 6-3, 6-2, after which he revealed he had done his homework on all their previous showdowns back to the first at Wimbledon 15 years ago.

“I think Gilles remembers we played first time in 2007, so we are both veterans on the tour. I think all of our matches went either three sets or five sets,” Cilic, who will face second seed Daniil Medvedev next, said.

He was correct. The pair had played a five-set match at each of the other three majors and every other tour-level showdown went the distance, before Cilic improved his ledger to 2-6 with the straight-sets result.

“I think Gilles deserves incredible awards from the old players and the whole tour for always fighting and I think he's got the best score from losing the first set and coming back,” he said.

“That's why I was today really focused to try to play until the end because I knew he was such an incredible champion.”

The 37-year-old Simon had scored his 500th career match win with his second-round victory over Steve Johnson was no match for the current world No.23.

While this was his 17th and final Roland-Garros appearance, he will wait until the season’s end to join good friend Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in retirement.

Swiatek only wants ticket to one final

World No.1 Iga Swiatek will be the only top-10 seed in the women’s draw to take her place in the fourth round this year after extending her winning streak to 31 with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Montenegrin Danka Kovinic.

While wisely prioritising her downtime on her off days in the French capital with visits to parks and Chateau de Versailles, Swiatek admitted she had elected against an invitation to attend the in-demand Champions League football final between Real Madrid and Liverpool in Paris on Saturday night.

“I was thinking about it. I really wanted to go, because I have never actually (seen) a football match in a good level,” Swiatek said.

“Basically I really wanted (to), it was actually possible for me, but I'm not that sure like yet if it's going to interfere with my rhythm and the tournament. So I actually talked with my team about it yesterday that maybe in like two, three years, I'm going to be able to go in like some exciting events during and I'm still going to be able to focus.”

Had the Pole known, she could have sent the tickets offered Diego Schwartzman’s way after the Argentine had begged to go during his post-match press conference on Friday.

Medvedev in esteemed company

Second seed Medvedev has not dropped more than four games in a set across his opening three rounds and added 28th seed Miomir Kecmanovic to his victims on Saturday.

The US Open champion has already enjoyed two weeks as world No.1 in February and could reclaim the top spot from Novak Djokovic with a deep run in Paris, not that he was losing sleep over it.

Daniil Medvedev, Roland Garros 2022, third round© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

“I went on the internet and looked just like this on Google, who were the shortest like No.1 players in the world, and the first I saw Pat Rafter being there for one week, and he's an absolute legend, and Carlos Moya was somewhere there,” Medvedev said.

“If I would have been asked, I didn't know these stats, and somebody would ask me, ‘How long were Rafter and Moya No.1?’ I'd say, I don't know, six months, one year.

“It's something nobody can take away from me, not that many players could take it while they play tennis. It's a great motivation to try to come back there.”

Kasatkina's secret to second week

Following the exit of third seed Paula Badosa and seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka, the draw has opened up nicely for former quarter-finalist Daria Kasatkina.

The 25-year-old breezed past Shelby Rogers 6-3, 6-2 to reach the fourth round at a major for the first time since Wimbledon four years ago.

A tough defeat, having held match point against Ons Jabeur in the Rome semi-finals leading in, gave some insight into her renewed mindset.

“I cried for five minutes after the match (in Rome) and then was fine. I mean, next day I didn't have like, I call it hangover, a post-match hangover,” Kasatkina said.

“I'm happy with the way I took this loss because normally I would be out of my mind for the next couple of days, losing from match point. But this time it was different and I'm happy with the way I grew up in this way.”

An avid FC Barcelona fan, Kasatkina also had no intention of attending the Champion’s League final in Paris on Saturday night, but made it clear where her allegiances lay between the two finalists.

“Liverpool, Liverpool, of course,” she laughed. “Yeah, I'm not going to the match, but my priorities in this match are obvious.”

Quote of the day

“(Li Na was) the first one in Asia who win (Roland-Garros), the first Grand Slam. It's like she gave me a little dream feeling (in) the heart that… Asian people also can do something really good in tennis… The first one is always special, and special in that moment I was really young.

“So, yeah, she gave me the dream that I can do something big in tennis.”

-- Zheng Qinwen talks about her countrywoman and idol Li Na.