PARIS, June 5, 2018
World No. 72 Marco Cecchinato became the first Italian man in 40 years to reach a Grand Slam semi-final with a memorable 6-3, 7-6(4), 1-6, 7-6(11) victory over 2016 French Open champion Novak Djokovic after three hours and 26 minutes on Court Suzanne Lenglen on Tuesday afternoon.
The unseeded Italian, who had never won a Grand Slam match in his career before Roland Garros, won four points less than his opponent but sent down six aces and hit 54 winners.
“Maybe I’m sleeping. It’s amazing, it’s unbelievable for me. I’m very happy because it’s unbelievable to beat Novak Djokovic in a quarter-final at Roland Garros. It’s amazing,” told Cecchinato, who becomes the lowest-ranked semi-finalist at Roland Garros since No. 100 Andrei Medvedev reached the final four in Paris in 1999
“I was two breaks down on the tie-breaker and I had two or three match points and then on the fourth one I was very tired.”
Who is Cecchinato?
He is from Palermo.
And his name is CECCHINATO pic.twitter.com/DBaHsA70jQ
— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) 5. Juni 2018
The other story
Cecchinato was found guilty of a match-fixing offence during an ATP Challenger in Morocco in 2015 by the Italian Tennis Federation two years ago, which banned him for 18 months. This ban was initially reduced to 12 months later in 2016 and was overturned completely by the Italian Olympic Committee because of irregularities regarding how the evidence was gathered.
Cecchinato returned to the courts in 2017, competing mainly on the ATP Challenger Tour. He clinched titles in Rome 2017 and Santiago de Chile 2018. His biggest triumph so far took place in Budapest earlier this season when he lifted his maiden trophy on the ATP World Tour as a lucky loser.
Cecchinato will next take on Dominic Thiem. This will be the first main draw tour-meeting between the two. Previously the Sicily native defeated Thiem in the final of the Italy 17 ITF Futures in 2013. The Austrian won the last match in the qualifying of the ATP 250 event in Doha 2014.
Novak Djokovic didn’t say much in a press conference conducted in a small interview room (without an official microphone) immediately after coming off court – but he did say he’s not sure whether he will play on the grass
— Russell Fuller (@russellcfuller) 5. Juni 2018
First all-US-American French Open semi-final in 16 years
In the women’s draw, reigning US Open champion Sloane Stephens knocked out No. 14 seed Daria Kasatkina 6-3, 6-1 to book her spot into the French Open semi-finals for the first time. The encounter lasted just over an hour.
“I thought I played pretty solid,” Stephens told in her press-conference. “I knew that every time you go into a match there are a little bit of nerves that go into it. I knew I had to come out and keep swinging.
“Sometimes I start well and sometimes a little sluggish. I knew I needed to keep swinging no matter what, even if it was very close, so that’s what I did. And when I got my opportunity to break, I was like, ‘It’s go time.’”
Next up for Stephens will Madison Keys. It will be the first all-US-American French Open semi-final since 2002, when Serena Williams beat defending champion Jennifer Capriati to win the first of her four consecutive major singles titles. Stephens also becomes the No. 1 US-American in the WTA rankings on Monday