World number 72 Marco Cecchinato became the first Italian man in 40 years to reach a Grand Slam semi-final on Tuesday with a breathtaking 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 1-6, 7-6 (13/11) victory over 12-time major winner Novak Djokovic, AFP reports.
Cecchinato, who had never won a Grand Slam match in his career before Roland Garros, goes on to face Austrian seventh seed Dominic Thiem for a place in Sunday’s final.
In an epic fourth set tiebreaker, Djokovic saved three match points but wasted three set points as Cecchinato became the lowest-ranked man in the semi-finals in Paris since 100th-ranked Andrei Medvedev in 1999.
In a roller-coaster of a quarter-final, both men were warned for coaching, 2016 champion Djokovic required two medical timeouts while the Italian was docked a point for unsportsmanlike behaviour.
Djokovic had also squandered three set points in the second set and failed to serve out the fourth in the ninth game after being 5-2 in front.
In an extraordinary post-match press conference, Djokovic then said he may even skip Wimbledon where he has been champion three times.
“I don’t know if I am going to play on grass,” said the Serb.
Cecchinato said he was stunned by his triumph, coming just two years after his career was almost derailed when he became embroiled in match fixing allegations.
“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,” said the 25-year-old who is the first Italian to get this far at a Slam since Corrado Barazzutti at Roland Garros in 1978.
“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.”
Djokovic saluted Cecchinato who he warmly embraced at the net.
“He played amazing, so congratulations for a great performance,” he said.
“I struggled at the beginning and also had a little injury at the beginning. After then I warmed up and it was better, but yeah, just a pity that I couldn’t capitalise on some break points at 4-1 in the fourth set.”
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