Marin Cilic looks to make his first French Open semi final on Wednesday afternoon, needing to beat Juan Martin Del Potro to make it that far. The Croatian, historically poor on clay relative to other surfaces, has been much improved the past two years. This match could take on added importance going into Wimbledon with a place in the top 4 of the rankings (and hence seeds) going to the winner.
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There were question marks over Del Potro actually playing in the tournament after he suffered another injury but there seems to be little troubling the Argentinian at this point. Since losing the first set of the tournament to Nicolas Mahut, he has won 12 straight. The most impressive win so far was over John Isner in the previous round – he remained strong on serve while breaking Isner once in each set for a 6-4 6-4 6-4 victory.
Cilic avoided a collapse from two sets up to eventually defeat Fabio Fognini 6-4 6-1 3-6 6-7 6-3. A missed match point in the fourth set could have got him off court much quicker but he didn’t let it get to him. “It’s not easy mentally to stay in there, but for me it was a big focus just to keep focusing on my game and to continue to look for the opportunities. I know I missed a lot of them, but I knew one or two were going to come again.”
Del Potro leads the head to head 10-2 but won’t be getting too far ahead of himself, especially with just two of the matches coming since Cilic established himself as a permanent fixture in the top 10. “It’s always a tough matchup between both of us. I think we are always playing some tough matches, and I believe this one is going to be, for both of us, very tough,” Cilic said. “There’s going to be a lot of points played from the baseline that can make a difference… I think, in these kind of matches, not many points are differentiating the players. So it’s going to be extremely important to play every single point on a high level.”
Prediction – Juan Martin Del Potro in four sets