5 players who went exceeded expectations at the 2022 French Open ft. Holger Rune, Qinwen Zheng

An aerial view of Court Philippe-Chatrier during the 2022 French Open.
An aerial view of Court Philippe-Chatrier during the 2022 French Open.

The 126th edition of the French Open ended with Rafael Nadal winning the men's singles title for the 14th time and thus clinching a record-extending 22nd Slam. On the women's side, Iga Swiatek lifted the Suzanne-Lenglen trophy for the second time in her career. Both Nadal and Swiatek faced first-time Slam finalists (Casper Ruud and Coco Gauff respectively) in the title clash.

Apart from the finals, the tournament produced some memorable matches in both the men's and women's singles events. Players not known for their prowess on clay managed to send ripples across the draw with their performances.

On that note, here's a look at five players from the men's and women's draw that punched above their weight.

#1 Zheng Qinwen

Zheng at the 2022 French Open.
Zheng at the 2022 French Open.

Zheng Qinwen, who made the round of 16 at the 2022 French Open, hasn't even completed one full year on tour. She made her debut in July 2021 at the Palermo Ladies Open.

Zheng's 2022 season began with a final-four finish at the Melbourne Summer Set 1, after coming through qualifying. She made her main-draw Slam debut at the Australian Open as a qualifier. The Chinese beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(5) in the first round, which propelled her into the top 100.

Zheng's claycourt campaign included second-round and first-round defeats in Charleston and Madrid respectively.


Unseeded, she got into the main draw at the French Open. In the second round, she faced former Roland Garros champion Simona Halep. The former World No.1 had defeated Zheng at the Melbourne Summer Set 1 earlier in the season. However, Zheng upset Halep this time around, winning 2-6, 6-2, 6-1.

In the next round, Zheng was leading 6-0, 3-0 against home favorite Alize Cornet, when the Frenchwoman retired due to a persistent leg injury, sending the Chinese to the round of 16.

The Chinese faced World No. 1 and eventual champion Iga Swiatek and started strong by taking the first set in a tie-break, which was the only set that the Pole lost in the entire tournament. Swiatek recovered and ended Zheng’s run in Paris, winning 6-7(5), 6-0, 6-2.

#2 Martina Trevisan

Martina Trevisan at the 2022 French Open.
Martina Trevisan at the 2022 French Open.

As a qualifier at the 2020 French Open, Marina Trevisan exceeded expectations by reaching the quarterfinals before succumbing to eventual champion Iga Swiatek. However, the Italian could not carry forward her form the following season, where she won only one of the six tour-level matches she played. This included a first-round loss in the qualifying draw in Madrid.


Trevisan, however, found her footing on clay yet again this year. She began the year ranked outside the top 100, but climbed back into the top 60 after winning the Morocco Open.

At the 2022 French Open, Trevisan defeated seventh seed Leylah Fernandez in the quarterfinals before losing to eventual runner-up Coco Gauff in the semis. The run helped Trevisan reach a career-high No. 27 in the rankings.

#3 Marin Cilic

Marin Cilic at the 2022 French Open.
Marin Cilic at the 2022 French Open.

Former World No. 3 Marin Cilic hasn’t had much success on clay since turning pro in 2005. The Croatian has won 20 titles in his career, of which the ATP 250 events at Umag (2012) and Istanbul (2017) are the only ones he has won on clay. It has been over five years since Cilic won a tour-level claycourt title.

The French Open was the only Slam where Cilic was yet to reach the semis or better. The 2014 US Open champion broke the jinx at the 2022 French Open. He beat Hungarians Attila Balazs and Marton Fucsovics in the first two rounds before defeating Gilles Simon in the French veteran’s final Roland Garros match of his career.


Cilic then proceeded to defeat second seed Daniil Medvedev in straight sets in the fourth round to set up a quarterfinal clash with Medvedev's compatriot Andrey Rublev. The match was decided in a fifth-set tie-break and the Croat held on to progress to the French Open semifinals, where he lost to eventual runner-up Casper Ruud in four sets.

Cilic has found his way back into the top 20 and is currently No. 17 in the rankings.

#4 Bernabe Zapata Miralles

Bernabe Zapata Miralles at the 2022 French Open.
Bernabe Zapata Miralles at the 2022 French Open.

Bernabe Zapata Miralles began the 2022 season ranked No. 124. The Spaniard has been a consistent feature at Challenger events and made the quarterfinals of the Heilbronner Neckarcup a week before the French Open. However, he had won only two of the seven Tour-level matches he had played on clay this season heading into the French Open.

A day he’ll never forget 🥹Qualifier Bernabe Zapata Miralles shocks No.23 seed John Isner 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3 to reach first Slam final 16#RolandGarros

For the second consecutive year, Zapata Miralles had to get to the main draw as a qualifier. He defeated three Americans in the tournament -- wild card entrant Michael Mmoh, 13th seed Taylor Fritz and 23rd seed John Isner.

After two upsets in succession, Zapata Miralles drew third seed Alexander Zverev in the fourth round, losing 7-6(11), 7-5, 6-3.

Zapata Miralles is currently placed at a career-high ranking of No. 97 in singles.

#5 Holger Rune

Holger Rune in action at the 2022 French Open
Holger Rune in action at the 2022 French Open

19-year-old Holger Rune was one of the players who qualified for the 2021 Next Gen Finals. Rune lost two of his three matches in the round-robin stage of the tournament and finished the season just outside the top 100.

In the first four months, Rune won only four of the 13 tour-level main draw matches he played. He was ranked No. 70 when he entered the ATP 250 event in Munich as a wildcard. He made it all the way to the final, defeating top seed Alexander Zverev in straight sets in the en route.

In the summit clash, his opponent Botic van de Zandschulp retired due to chest pain, giving Rune the title. With the win, he broke into the top 50 of the rankings for the first time in his career. A week before Roland Garros, Rune finished as a semifinalist in Lyon.


At the 2022 French Open, Rune defeated 14th seed Denis Shapovalov in the first round in straight sets. In the fourth round, he defeated last year's runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas in four sets, becoming the first Danish man to reach the quarterfinals of a Major.

Ruud’s run ended in the quarterfinals, losing in four sets to eventual runner-up Casper Ruud.

The Dane's run in Paris has helped him break into the top 30 for the first time.

Rafael Nadal and wife Maria Francisca Perello spotted with infant son. click here for pictures.

Quick Links

Edited by Anirudh
Be the first one to comment