Roland Garros: the unexpected Cecchinato in half by beating Djokovic

Ⓒ AFP – CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT – | Italian Marco Cecchinato after his victory over Serbian Novak Djokovic on June 5, 2018 at Roland-Garros

Italian Marco Cecchinato, who had not won a Grand Slam match before Roland Garros, qualified against all odds for the semi-finals by dominating former world No.1 Novak Djokovic (22) in four sets (6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 1-6, 7-6 (13/11)) on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old Sicilian, ranked 72nd in the world, is the lowest-ranked player to reach the last four-seater since 1999 and Ukrainian Andrei Medvedev (100) was beaten in the final by American Andre Agassi.

Cecchinato will face in the semifinal Austria’s Dominic Thiem (8th), who earlier dismissed the world N.3, the German Alexander Zverev (6-4, 6-2, 6-1), decreased by an injury to the left thigh.

Since Adriano Panatta’s coronation in 1976, Italy has been desperate to find a new champion. It is not his N.1 Fabio Fognini (18th), eliminated in the round of 16 on Monday by Croatian Marin Cilic, who will maintain the hope, but an unknown, who had avoided in 2016 a suspension of eighteen months in a case of alleged faked matches.

Professional since 2010, the Palermitain is more used to surveying the second division tournaments than to seek glory in the most prestigious ATP events. But a new career may have started for him at the end of April in Budapest.

It was on Hungarian clay that this AC Milan fan had his first ATP title … after being drafted at the end of qualifying to make up for a fixed price!

The real stir was in Paris when, dominated by two sets by Romanian Marius Copil, the Italian reversed the match to offer his first success in a major tournament.

After three more laps, including two seeded leaders, the Spaniard Pablo Carreno (11th) and the Belgian David Goffin (9th), the unexpected Italian offered a duel of prestige with Djokovic.

– Breathtaking suspense –

Ⓒ AFP – Christophe ARCHAMBAULT – | Serbian Novak Djokovic salutes the public after his elimination at Roland-Garros, June 5, 2018

The two players have been used for several years to train together in Monaco, where the Serb lives. “He plays the tennis of his life”, judged before the game the winner of 12 major trophies with the intention of taking this duel “very seriously”.

He was right because his training partner, uninhibited, made him live hell during the first two sets. Driven by an efficient service, the Palermitain pushed “Djoko” to do the windshield wiper while admiring his range of blows (amortized, lobs, sharp flights …).

In total success, he even paid luxury to save three set balls in the second run before pocketing the decisive faceoff. Did Djokovic simply get back to square then, despite neck pain and then right leg?

Or is it Cecchinato, by dint of accumulating approximations and annoying, who has put the Serb back on the saddle? A bit of both. But while he used to come back to two runs everywhere (5-3), Djokovic stammered his service, allowing Cecchinato to regain the upper hand. The Italian did not pray, returning first equal then pushing Djokovic in a breathtaking tie-break.

Djokovic obtained three set balls without concluding. He shipped the last (at 9-8) in the air, presumably embarrassed by the noise of the public. Cecchinato concluded the game on his fourth match point after 3h26 of combat.

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