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Friday 14 December 2018

Djokovic out as Italian makes history

Marco Cecchinato
Marco Cecchinato

Whatever happens in his French Open semi-final against Dominic Thiem, Italian Marco Cecchinato believes his life will never be the same again.

Cecchinato, who was suspended for match-fixing two years ago, before his ban was overturned on appeal, arrived in Paris having not won a single Grand Slam match.

Yesterday, he became the first Italian to reach the last four at a major in 40 years by beating 12-times Grand Slam champion and 2016 Roland Garros winner Novak Djokovic on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

"I think it's changed my life. So after Roland Garros, I need some rest and to realise the moment, and we will see my life," said the world number 72, the lowest-ranked player to reach this stage at Roland Garros since Andrei Medvedev in 1999.

To achieve that feat, Cecchinato, who in 2016 was suspended for 18 months for match fixing before his ban was lifted following a successful appeal, displayed an impressive range of claycourt tennis skills.

"It's tough to describe my feelings," he said.

"Because now I need to realise the moment, because I will play the semi-final in Roland Garros. It is tough to talk about my emotions, very tough."

Djokovic said he does not know if will play the grasscourt season after this defeat in which he was treated for neck pain. "I don't know if I'm going to play on grass," the Serb said minutes after walking off court.

Next up for Sicilian Cecchinato is Austrian Thiem, the last man to beat claycourt master and 10-times French Open champion Rafa Nadal on his favourite surface.

Thiem came through thanks to a 6-4 6-2 6-1 demolition of injured second seed Alexander Zverev of Germany.

He will be wary of Cecchinato, though.

"Cecchinato is full of confidence, probably the most confident player out there right now," he said.

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