The US Open seedings looked prescient when they peered beyond fame and history to smartly seed struggling Rafa Nadal at No. 8. Nadal looked ferocious as the tournament began but he quickly got tossed from Flushing Meadows, dropping from view like a man who has neglected to pay dues on his membership in tennis’s Big Four club (Djokovic, Federer, Nadal, Murray).
But with defending US Open champion Marin Cilic defeating Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 6-4) to march triumphantly into the semifinals, the Open seedings look as wrong on Cilic as they were right on Nadal. (There weren’t, it turns out, eight players with a better chance to win thatn Cilic.) As reigning champ, Cilic deserved more respect from the seeding authorities. One might think his being overlooked lit a fire that drove him, but that would be ignoring the fact that he’s been playing with fire in Flushing Meadows unmatched by anyone since 2013. Cilic has now won 12 straight matches at the Open. The big Croatian has a real chance to repeat as winner — and to make certain he isn’t seeded No. 9 again for the foreseeable future.