Cecchinato shocks Djokovic, faces Thiem in French Open semis

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Paris, June 6 (IANS) Italy’s underdog tennis sensation Marco Cecchinato shocked Serbian star Novak Djokovic in four sets to set-up a French Open semi-final against Austrian Dominic Thiem, who eliminated German second seed Alexander Zverev in straight sets here on Tuesday.

World No. 72 Cecchiato became the lowest-ranked semi-finalist at Roland Garros in 19 years by dispatching former world No. 1 and 2016 French Open champion Djokovic with a 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), 1-6, 7-6 (13-11) triumph, reports Efe.

“Am I dreaming? Maybe I’m sleeping?” the Italian said after winning the match.

Before this year’s French Open, Cecchinato had never won a single Grand Slam match.

Cecchinato, who is to become the first Italian player to compete in a Grand Slam semi-final in 40 years, battled for three hours and 26 minutes to eliminate Djokovic.

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The 25-year-old Italian is set to play the semi-final against world No. 8 Thiem, who secured his berth in the French Open semi-finals for the third straight year.

Thiem also took revenge on his German opponent following his loss in last month’s ATP Madrid Masters final. He moved through Tuesday’s quarterfinals 6-4, 6-2, 6-1, reports Xinhua news agency.

Both players held their serves in the opening six games, before Thiem finished the first break in the seventh to go ahead 4-3. The Austrian sealed his victory in the first set with an ace.

Zverev, who had already recorded his best Grand Slam performance after reaching the quarterfinals, seemingly suffered a left hamstring injury when returning the ball. The German called for a medical timeout when trailing 1-4 after the fifth game.

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Troubled by the injury, Zverev failed to perform at his best and quickly conceded the second set.

Thiem continued his momentum to win four straight games into the third set, and was never within reach later. Thiem wrapped up the win following his sixth break throughout the match.

Thiem won 78 per cent on his first serves, and 68 per cent on second serves, both over 20 percent higher than that of Zverev. The German also suffered 42 unforced errors, compared to Thiem’s 20.

“It was tough for him (Zverev) today, he is one of the fittest guys on tour. It is tough to play three five-setters in a row. I hope that we have many more encounters against each other at this stage or even later in a grand slam,” Thiem was quoted as saying by the Roland Garros official Twitter account.

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–IANS

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