Marin Cilic unleashed 33 aces and dominated the fifth-set tiebreak while registering an upset of seventh-seeded Andrey Rublev on Wednesday to reach the semifinals of the French Open at Paris.
The 20th-seeded Cilic prevailed 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (10-2) in the quarterfinal match to become just the fifth active player to reach the semifinals of all four Grand Slam events. The others are Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray.
The 33-year-old Cilic will face eighth-seeded Casper Ruud, who recorded a 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3 win over Holger Rune.
Cilic racked up 88 winners and overcame 71 unforced errors. The Croatian saved six of eight break points and stepped up his level of play during the tiebreak.
“It comes from being me,” Cilic said of being tenacious at the end of a match that lasted four hours, 14 minutes. “I played that kind of tennis the whole match, and especially the fifth set was an incredible battle. Andrey played incredibly well, and it was an incredible fair-play performance on the court.
“A lot of heart, and one had to go down. Today was my day, but Andrey also played an incredible match.”
Cilic’s victory comes two days after he ousted second-seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev in three sets at Roland Garros.
Rublev, also from Russia, had 15 aces among 35 winners and also committed 31 unforced errors.
Cilic won the U.S. Open in 2014 and reached the finals at Wimbledon (2017) and the Australian Open (2018) before losing. His highest ranking of No. 3 came early in 2018.
The 23-year-old Ruud is the first Norwegian to reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam event.
Ruud had 13 aces among his 55 winners and he committed 24 unforced errors.
Ruud and Rune split the first two sets before contesting a fierce battle in the third set. Rune held leads of 5-4 and 6-5 but Ruud prevailed in a tiebreaker and the momentum carried into the final set.
“I started great but then Holger fought back well, raised his level and I had a really tough match in the end there,” Ruud said afterward. “He has improved a lot. I’ve played him four times already in my career. I’m probably the player who has played him most on tour so I know a little bit how he plays but he has become much more dangerous, more unpredictable.
“He plays fearless, plays a lot of big shots and makes a lot of them so he makes it challenging for you and he’s going to be a dangerous player for many years.”
Rune, a 19-year-old from Denmark, struck 54 winners but racked up 46 unforced errors, nearly twice Ruud’s total.
–Field Level Media