Monday, 25 June, 2018

Watch the 2018 French Open

French Open casualty Grigor Dimitrov GETTYGrigor Dimitrov was undone by clay expert Fernando Verdasco
| 06 June, 2018, 03:27

2016 champion Novak Djokovic suffers a shock 3-6 6-7 6-1 6-7 defeat to world number 72 Marco Cecchinato in the French Open quarter-finals at Roland Garros.

Novak Djokovic strengthened his claims as a French Open contender by reaching the quarter-finals with a straight-set victory over Spain's Fernando Verdasco.

Djokovic saved a third match point, but he served and volleyed on the fourth and Cecchinato's backhand return flew past him and bounced within the limits of the court. Cecchinato, who dropped onto his back on the clay after winning, is the lowest-ranked man to get to the semifinals in Paris in 19 years _ and about as unlikely as anyone to get this far at a big tournament.

"Are you sure I'm not dreaming?"

Djokovic, seeded 20 after a year of struggles with an elbow injury and mediocre form, was never in trouble against an erratic Verdasco, who needed treatment for a badly blistered left foot at the end of the second set.

He would not face 10-time champion Rafael Nadal - a rematch of the 2012 and 2014 finals - until the final.

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. The 72nd-ranked player beat Djokovic in a 3-hour, 26-minute match that ended in a tiebreak, 6-3, 7-6 (4), 1-6, 7-6 (11).


Alexander Zverev of Germany celebrates winning against Karen Khachanov of Russian Federation during their men's round of 16 match during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France.

"Seems like a month ago", Cecchinato said with a laugh Tuesday, when he answered reporters' questions in Italian, Spanish and English. Stephens beat Keys in the U.S. Open final last September, and their rematch on Thursday will be the first all-American women's semifinal at the French Open since Serena Williams defeated Jennifer Capriati in 2002.

Despite defeat, he showed real class by racing round to the other side of the net to congratulate the Italian - who will peak at a career-high world No. 27 after advancing.

"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 exhausted".

"In the most important moments I managed to play an extra shot in the court, made him run and made him uncomfortable". "Because now I need to realize the moment, because I will play the semi-final in Roland Garros".

A drop of serve when in position to win the match did not matter for Djokovic, though, as Bautista Agut was broken in the next game, sending him through to a tie with Verdasco.

Somehow, Cecchinato won the one that mattered most, the last.

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