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World No. 72 Cecchinato shocks Djokovic to make French Open semis

Pierre René-Worms, FRANCE 24 | Marco Cecchinato is the lowest-ranked French Open semi-finalist since 1999.

Marco Cecchinato, the world number 72, became the first Italian man in 40 years to reach a Grand Slam semi-final on Tuesday with a roller-coaster win over 12-time major winner Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros.


Cecchinato, who had never won a Grand Slam match in his career before this year's Roland Garros, prevailed in an epic fourth set tiebreak to win the match 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), 1-6, 7-6 (13-11), becoming the lowest-ranked semifinalist at Roland Garros since No. 100 Andrei Medvedev advanced to the last four back in 1999.

He goes on to face Austrian seventh seed Dominic Thiem for a place in Sunday's final.

In a tense quarter-final, both men were warned for coaching, Djokovic required two medical timeouts, and the Italian was docked a point for unsportsmanlike behaviour. The 2016 champion, Djokovic squandered three set points in both the second and fourth sets, also failing to serve out the fourth in the ninth game after being 5-2 in front.

Pierre René-Worms, FRANCE 24 | Djokovic vents his frustration at the crowd after being distracted by a shout on set point.

Adding to the drama, Djokovic later told reporters he may skip the grass-court season and Wimbledon, where he has lifted the title three times, without detailing why.

Cecchinato is the first Italian to get this far at a Grand Slam tournament since Corrado Barazzutti at Roland Garros in 1978. His triumph comes 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.

Zverev pays the price

Earlier in the day, 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. The second-seeded German entered the contest having played in three consecutive five-setters and the wear-and-tear soon showed as Thiem played several drop shops to force him to run.

Just 10 minutes into the match, Zverev was clutching at his left hamstring. He grabbed it again midway through the second set before calling for a trainer, who applied a thick bandage to the German's upper left leg. Zverev, who finished with 42 unforced errors and just 19 winners, later said he had been close to quitting the tie.

Pierre René-Worms, FRANCE 24 | Sloane Stephens during her quarter-final win on Tuesday.

In the women’s draw, Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys breezed through their quarter-finals to set up a re-match of their US Open final last year. Stephens had little trouble beating Daria Kasatkina 6-3, 6-1 on Court Philippe Chatrier, with the Russian unable to reproduce the stunning tennis that saw her boot out second-seed Caroline Wozniacki in the previous round.

Keys, the US Open runner-up, gave further indication of her hugely improved clay-court game by beating Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan 7-6 (7-5), 6-4. The 13th seed is yet to drop a set at Roland Garros this year.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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