Djokovic's opponent insists he must be dreaming after stunning French Open upset
06 June, 2018, 03:28 | Author: Marlene Myers
Cecchinato is the first Italian man to reach a Grand Slam semi-final since 1978 after his thrilling 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 1-6, 7-6 (13/11) victory over the 12-time major champion.
At the site of his 12th and most recent major title, which came two years ago, Djokovic was stunned by 72nd-ranked Marco Cecchinato of Italy 6-3, 7-6 (4), 1-6, 7-6 (11) in a rollicking match filled with long points and plenty of drama. Cecchinato won on his fourth match point by hitting a backhand victor down the line as Djokovic tried to serve and volley.
On court, Cédric Pioline, the former French star, started the post-match interview by reassuring Cecchinato, "You're not dreaming".
The 25-year-old, who had never won a Grand Slam match in his career before Roland Garros, goes on to face Austrian seventh seed Thiem for a place in Sunday's final. Analyzing the match, Djokovic added: 'He played fantastic and credit to him.
Thiem reached his third successive French Open semi-final with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 demolition of a hobbled and exhausted Alexander Zverev who admitted he was close to quitting the tie.
In the women's quarterfinals, No. 10 Sloane Stephens beat No. 14 Daria Kasatkina of Russian Federation 6-3, 6-1, and No. 13 Madison Keys eliminated unseeded Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan 7-6 (5), 6-4.
The Bulgarian reached the semi-finals at the Monte Carlo Masters and the last eight in Barcelona, but he suffered first-round exits at the Madrid Open and the Internazionali d'Italia.
That Cecchinato would be a semifinal participant was far harder to predict.
After fighting through three consecutive five-set match-wins, Zverev is still on track to be the first German men's champion at Roland Garros since 1937.
Cecchinato opened up a 6-5 lead for his first match point.
And Djokovic woke up, blazing through the third set as Cecchinato looked out of sorts. Indeed, his seeding of No. 20 was his lowest at any Grand Slam tournament in a dozen years.
"I definitely need to take some time off now to kind of reassess the whole clay-court season, to be honest", said Dimitrov.
But all eyes will be on Monday's showdown between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, with the latter trying to end an 18-match losing streak to her bitter rival.
"I just could never turn it around out here".
Cracking winners from the baseline, especially on his stunning one-handed backhand, and carving drop shots into the clay, Cecchinato held his nerve under the most intense pressure to claim the victory of his career.
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