Day 9: Three things to look out for

 - Simon Cambers

Can Zheng halt Swiatek's streak? Will Rune pose a threat for Tsitsipas? Plenty in store on Monday in Paris

By the end of Monday, the quarter-final line-up will be completed at Roland-Garros and there are a few new faces on the scene.

Here’s what we’ll be looking out for on Monday.

Swiatek set for biggest test from rising star

Iga Swiatek has been doing her best impression of Steffi Graf over the past few months, dismissing opponents with brutal efficiency in a similar brusque manner to the way the great German used to breeze through draws.

Such has been her dominance – the world No.1 has now won 31 matches in a row - that many people have been left trying to predict how long it will take her to win and how few games she will lose.

But after crushing wins in her first two matches, Swiatek was given a test by Danka Kovinic in round three before coming through 6-3, 7-5. It was the first time she’s been pushed this fortnight and she may need to up her game on Monday when she plays the talented Chinese teenager Zheng Qinwen.

The 19-year-old grew up inspired by watching Li Na win Roland-Garros and was coached by Carlos Rodriguez - who famously coached four-time Roland-Garros champion Justine Henin as well as Li Na - at his academy in Beijing, before moving to Spain two years ago.

Qinwen Zheng / Deuxième tour Roland-Garros 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

That education shows in her tennis. Zheng plays very much the Spanish way, changing the pace and spin, hitting hard and heavy, which has been too much for her opponents here, including another former champion Simona Halep.

And unlike most opponents she faces at the moment, 2020 champion Swiatek is unlikely to overawe Zheng, who is more excited than wary.

“Of course, she's a wonderful player,” Zheng said. “ Actually, I have been prepared for this match, because I really want to play against her. So I'm excited for this match.

“I mean, to be at a Grand Slam is one of my childhood dreams…imagining a lot to play on a big stadium and to play here in front of everybody. So I only want to give the best when I will stay in the big stadium, and I feel just I have to give my best always on the court. I only feel excited to play on the big stadium. I'm happy for that.”

And though Swiatek has never played Zheng before, it seems she knows she might be in for a battle.

“I’m not really familiar (with her),” said the world No.1. “But I have heard some other players talking about her. Even when she was losing some matches, people were telling that she has a talent.”

Trio chase maiden quarter-final spots

There’s something about Roland-Garros that produces breakthrough performances and this year is no different with Casper Ruud, Hubert Hurkacz and Holger Rune all one win away from reaching the quarter-finals on Paris' terre battue for the first time.

Norway’s Ruud and Poland’s Hurkacz play each other for the first time, with Hurkacz the more experienced in Grand Slam terms, having made the semi-finals at Wimbledon last year.

Hurkacz has not dropped a set this year, having previously won just one match in four visits to Paris. His crisp groundstrokes have been working well and he has confidence from quarter-final runs in Monte-Carlo and Madrid but Ruud has the clay-court pedigree, having won seven of his eight titles on clay, including the week before Roland-Garros when he successfully defended his trophy in Geneva.

Round four is a new experience for both – and historic for Norway – but Ruud has the advantage that he knows he can last five sets, having outlasted Lorenzo Sonego in the previous round.  

“These types of matches, it's good to have some experience playing five-setters from before,” eighth seed Ruud said. "Even though I'm young, I've still played I think over 10 five-set matches in my career, so I think that helped me a little bit today.

Danish teenager Rune has been telling anyone who will listen, for the past year or so, that he wants to be world No.1. It’s a noble aim and a bold claim but he’s been backing it up with some outstanding performances in week one.

The 19-year-old has beaten Denis Shapovalov, Henri Laaksonen and Hugo Gaston without dropping a set and has the self-belief that just tells you he’s going to be around near the top of the sport.

A former junior champion, he’s already No.40 in the world and he’ll now get the chance to really show what he’s capable of when he plays last year’s runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Happy Cilic ready for Medvedev

Something’s happened to Marin Cilic in the last couple of months. The Croat, often quiet and reserved off court, has been laughing and smiling, openly, of late. Whatever the reason, he should keep it going because he’s back playing great tennis.

In some ways, it’s no surprise, given that he’s a Grand Slam champion, having won the US Open back in 2014. And as a former junior Roland-Garros champion, he can obviously play on clay.

He’s been striking the ball with venom and consistency all through the opening week and he’ll now get the chance to take on world No.2 and fellow US Open champion Daniil Medvedev.

“These last seven, eight months, I’ve been swimming around good form,” he said. “Played good, but then some matches were not as great.”

“But then I come back to training, training blocks, everything is fantastic. I’m feeling great. I played really well in Rome…and then here, just things clicked in and I’m playing fantastic.

Cilic and Medvedev have played three times before and the No.2 seed has won all three, but the 33-year-old Cilic believes his best tennis is ahead of him.

Marin Cilic, Roland Garros 2022, third round© Julien Crosnier/FFT

“I was talking with my doctor end of last year for the full check of my body and he said your body’s like 25,” he said. “And don’t tell my wife I’m saying this, that I might be playing another 10 years.

“I’m feeling good on the court. How long? We’ll see. But definitely three, four years, if I can be as competitive as this.”

Medvedev, meanwhile, is steadily becoming a strong competitor on clay, having lost in the first round in his first four visits until he made the quarters last year.

The No.2 seed knows people see him as a potential upset victim on clay but he’s ready to show them he can compete just as well as he does on hard courts, where he won the US Open last year.

Beaten in the first round in Geneva on his return following hernia surgery, Medvedev has rekindled his love with Paris and his win over Miomir Kecmanovic has given him even more confidence.

“I’m not that surprised,” he said, of his form. “But to be honest, every time I play good on clay, I am a little bit surprised.”