Novak Djokovic defeated by world no 72 Marco Cecchinato at the French Open semi-finals.
The Sicilian, ranked 72 in the world, became the first Italian man in 40 years to make the last four of a Grand Slam after a pulsating 6-3, 7-6, 1-6, 7-6 win over the former world number one.
He took an epic second tie-break 13-11 on his fourth match point, displaying remarkable sangfroid for a man who had never even won a match at a Major beforehand.
Djokovic marched straight off the court and into the media room where, his head still scrambled, he questioned his participation at Wimbledon. Under the circumstances his words may be taken with a pinch of salt.
‘I don’t know if I’m going to play on grass,’ he said. ‘I don’t want to think about
Cecchinato – best known prior to this for receiving a €40,000 fine for match fixing that was subsequently quashed – looked to have missed his chance when falling behind in the fourth set.
But the Serb, showing he is not the ruthless predator of old, let him back in and could not deliver the telling blow in the tie-break.
Djokovic had three set points to take it into a decider but netted at the crucial moments. At 12-11 the Sicilian looped a backhand return back up the line which landed just inside the corner of the court, sending a rowdy Court Suzanne Lenglen into ecstasy.
The match, which included code violations for illegal coaching, time wasting and a point penalty for the Italian when he left the court without permission, left the winner somewhat bemused.
‘Maybe I’m sleeping,’ he said. ‘It’s amazing, It’s unbelievable for me to beat Novak Djokovic in the quarter final at Roland Garros. I don’t understand anything. I was so tired but I won the match.
He now faces Austrian Dominic Thiem, who went through when the exertions of three straight five set matches caught up with Alex Zverev. His movement became increasingly hampered as he went down 6-4, 6-2, 6-1.
There is guaranteed to be an American in the women’s final after Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys made it through to the last four and set up a rematch of the US Open final, which the former won with surprising ease.