French Open: Cilic downs Rublev with scintillating tie-break performance to reach semi-finals

By Sports Desk June 01, 2022

Marin Cilic beat Andrey Rublev in a five-set classic on Court Philippe-Chatrier to reach the French Open semi-finals for the first time.

The 2014 US Open winner produced an incredible quarter-final display as he dominated a final-set super tie-break to down the Russian 5-7 6-3 6-4 3-6 7-6 (10-2) after four hours and 10 minutes of absorbing tennis.

The win means the Croatian, the 20th seed at this year's edition of Roland Garros, has reached at least the semi-finals of all four grand slams, with the French Open the only major at which he has yet to reach a final.

Rublev enjoyed the upper hand early on, claiming the first set with a display of clinical serving and forcing the all-important break in Cilic's final service game, as the seventh seed failed to give up a single break point during a strong start. 

But Cilic bounced back in the second, breaking with a big forehand winner in Rublev's first game on serve before clinging on in a series of drawn-out service games of his own.

The 33-year-old had to be more patient in the third, breaking in game seven with a winner to end a 16-shot rally to turn the match on its head, only for Rublev to fight back to force a decider.

The Russian won 92 per cent of first-serve points during a big-hitting fourth set, finally breaking in the eighth game before neither player could convert their one break point apiece in the decider, as an epic encounter required the use of the newly introduced super tie-break.

After four hours of intense back-and-forth, Cilic produced a classy display to blow a visibly frustrated Rublev away, claiming the tie-break 10-2 to set up a final-four meeting with either Casper Ruud or Holger Rune.

Speaking after the win, Cilic hailed the quality on display during the titanic tussle, saying: "It was an incredible battle and Andrey played incredibly well. It was an incredible performance [from both players].

"There was a lot of heart and one had to go down. Today was my day, but Andrey also played an incredible match, bad luck to him.

"Unfortunately I lost that fourth set, I thought I was close to getting the break at some points and Andrey played some great games, but when you play this long there's always going to be ups and downs."

Data Slam: Cilic joins greats in completing semi-final set

Cilic's superb win made him just the fifth active men's player to have reached at least the semi-finals at each of the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open, after world number one Novak Djokovic and former number ones Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Andy Murray.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Cilic - 88/71

Rublev - 35/31

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Cilic - 33/2

Rublev - 15/2

BREAK POINTS WON

Cilic - 2/7

Rublev - 2/8

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