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PREVIEW: 2022 ATP Tour – Men’s French Open Selected third-round matches

Damien Kayat previews the ATP Tour French Open selected third-round matches between Danil Medvedev and Miomir Kecmanovic as well as Marin Cilic vs Gilles Simon on 28 May 2022.

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Damien Kayat previews the ATP Tour French Open selected third-round matches between Danil Medvedev and Miomir Kecmanovic as well as Marin Cilic vs Gilles Simon on 28 May 2022.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

2022 ATP Tour
Grand Slam Tennis
French Open
Stade Roland Garros, Paris, France (Outdoor Clay)
Selected 3rd Round Matches- 28th May

Danil Medvedev (2) (57/100) vs Miomir Kecmanovic (28) (27/20)

It would seem as if Medvedev is well and truly over his Roland Garros hoodoo. It’s little secret that clay isn’t exactly Medvedev’s specialty.

Of the 23 ATP Finals in which he has competed- only one of them has been on clay (he lost to Dominic Thiem in the 2019 Barcelona final). He also had a disastrous start to his Roland Garros career (he lost his first four consecutive first-round appearances). His recent first-round Geneva Open defeat to Gasquet has helped perpetuate the image of Medvedev desperately clawing his way around a clay-court. But he made significant strides last year, making it all the way to the quarterfinal stage before Tsitsiaps took him down in straight-sets. And that performance seems to have emboldened the Russian.

He has looked peerless thus far, easily dismantling Bagnis and Djere in ruthless straight-sets affairs. He looks determined to shake his perception as a clay-court misfit. The Russian is starting to move more freely after being side-lined for some time due to a hernia operation. But he may need his best as he comes up against his toughest opponent yet: Miomir Kecmanovic.

Miomir Kecmanovic’s rise through the rankings has been much steadier than some of his more illustrious NextGen peers. There hasn’t really been that one, irrefutable moment of brilliance that has heralded his arrival. But the Serbian has started to emerge from the shadow of compatriot Novak Djokovic and this could be his year to shine.

He started the year with a brilliant run to the final 16 of the Aussie Open (thus highlighting his Grand Slam potential). Back-to-back quarterfinals at Indian Wells and Miami would have frustrated the hard-hitting Serb. He started the clay-court season promisingly, nearly beating Djokovic in a tight three-set match at the Serbia Open. He would then reach the semi-finals of the Bavarian International.

His form has dipped slightly since then but he has looked back to his best this week. He came from a set down to grind out a result against the unpredictable Alexander Bublik. I think this could be the moment that the Serbian No.2 announces his presence on the world stage.

The Verdict: Kecmanovic to win at 27/20- This will be the first meeting between these two. I know that many will have been swayed by Medvedev’s performances this week. But his victory over Djere has to be put in context. Djere hit 39 winners and 68 unforced errors in a chaotic display that seemed to indicate an underlying injury concern. Kecmanovic will be the complete opposite of that. He is an unparalleled athlete who will run down every lost cause. His forehand is hit with plenty of topspin and could disrupt the flatter hitting of Medvedev. I think this one is worth a little upset peek.

Marin Cilic (20) (2/13) vs Gilles Simon (42/10)

This match is a bit of a throwback, isn’t it? Marin Cilic seemed to lose himself in the aftermath of those consecutive Grand Slam final defeats to Roger Federer. I think he felt especially wronged after the controversial decision to close the roof in the 2018 Aussie Open final. Thus, his career went into a bit of a spiral in the following years. But he roared back to prominence last year, winning titles in Stuttgart and St Petersburg to regain a degree of lost relevance.

He started this year in similar fashion, reaching back-to-back Adelaide semi-finals before a solid 4th round run in the Aussie Open. But his form has nosedived since then. Cilic has never been best suited to clay. His big-serve-and-forehand style doesn’t make him the ideal candidate for grinding out results on slower surfaces. In fact, this year is the first time he has gone beyond the 2nd round here since 2018 (where he reached his 2nd consecutive quarterfinal).

But his 2nd round victory over the nuggety Marton Fucsovics showcased some of Cilic’s best tennis in recent memory. He blasted 57 winners to 32 unforced errors in a performance that harkened back to the halcyon days of Cilic.

37-year-old French journeyman Gilles Simon has announced his decision to retire this season. But he hasn’t exactly specified when that will be. This has led many to believe that this may be Simon’s last ever tournament outing. It makes sense. He would bid adieu to the game in front of his loving home fans.

But it also explains just how committed he has looked this week. He beat the struggling Pablo Carreno Busta in five sets before a comfier win against American Steve Johnson. His level of intensity this week has added further fuel to the notion that this will be his curtain call. The 14-time ATP champion has looked energized this week, chasing down lost causes as if he was in his late 20’s.

Simon has enjoyed his fair bit of success on clay-courts (though his last clay-court title came in 2017). Simon is one for the purists: he doesn’t rely on power but looks to get everything back into play. In some ways he reminds me of a diet Djokovic. Can he elevate his game one more time in front of his adoring fans?

The Verdict: Cilic to win in four at 47/20- Simon actually holds a mighty 6-1 head-to-head advantage over the Croatian. His brand of percentage-based tennis has obviously frustrated the ultra-aggressive Cilic. But they haven’t met since 2018 and they are both different players now. I don’t see the fairy-tale going on much longer. Simon looked shattered after the Johnson match and I think the fatigue could catch up to him here. Also, Cilic looked genuinely scintillating against Fucsovics.

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