Serbia's Novak Djokovic reacts after a point in the fourth set against Italy's Marco Cecchinato.
Serbia's Novak Djokovic reacts after a point in the fourth set against Italy's Marco Cecchinato.

Djokovic bundled out in shock loss

TRIPLE Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic might bypass the grass court season after sagging to French Open quarter-final defeat to Italian journeyman Marco Cecchinato.

Inconsolable after blowing a 5-2 lead in the fourth set, the former world No 1 was devastated by a 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 1-6 7-6 (13-11) loss to world No 72 Cecchinato.

Asked what his tournament schedule was, Djokovic snapped: "I don't know. I don't know if I'm going to play on grass.

"I don't know what I'm going to do. I just came from the court.

"I'm just not thinking about tennis at the moment."

 

Serbia's Novak Djokovic (C) receives treatment from a trainer between games against Italy's Marco Cecchinato.
Serbia's Novak Djokovic (C) receives treatment from a trainer between games against Italy's Marco Cecchinato.

 

The surly Serb managed to briefly bury his own pain to salute his conqueror.

"It's never been hard for me to congratulate and hug an opponent that just we shared a great moment on the court," he said.

"And the one that won deserved to win the match, and that was Marco today. I know him well. He's a great guy.

"He deserved. And that's something everybody should do.

"He just held his nerves amazingly well in the important moments."

 

Italy's Marco Cecchinato celebrates after a point against Serbia's Novak Djokovic.
Italy's Marco Cecchinato celebrates after a point against Serbia's Novak Djokovic.

 

Cecchinato had never previously won a grand slam match.

Due to face Dominic Thiem for a place in the final, he was incredulous on becoming Italy's first grand slam male semi-finalist since Corrado Barazzutti 40 years ago.

"Maybe I'm sleeping. It's amazing. It's unbelievable for me," he said.

"For me, to beat Djokovic in a quarter-final at Roland Garros it's unbelievable. It's amazing.

"I play unbelievable match. I start very well on my serve. I don't understand anything.

"I was two breaks down on the tie break I was maybe two or three match points before the last one.

"And after in the fifth (set) I don't know (what would have happened), I was so tired. But I won the match and it was amazing.

"I am so tired. For me, it's the first time semi-final grand slam, I am very happy."

 

Italy's Marco Cecchinato, left, is congratulated by Serbia's Novak Djokovic after winning his quarterfinal match of the French Open.
Italy's Marco Cecchinato, left, is congratulated by Serbia's Novak Djokovic after winning his quarterfinal match of the French Open.

 

In a match of incredible drama, a mesmerising fourth set tiebreak stretched 25 minutes and contained four match points for Cecchinato and three set points for Djokovic.

It ended when 2016 champion Djokovic allowed a floating Cecchinato backhand to pass as he attempted to serve and volley. The return landed safely in.

The players embraced warmly after a match which required the intervention of veteran officials Wayne McKewen and Carlos Ramos.

Cecchinato was given a warning for coaching and drew a point penalty for leaving the court early in the fourth set - without permission - to change shoes.

Cleared of match-fixing after being originally banned in 2016 for 18 months, Cecchinato is the lowest-ranked grand slam men's semi-finalist since 2008 Marat Safin and Rainer Schuttler at Wimbledon.

The right-hander is the first man to reach the last four here without previously winning a grand slam match since Dutchman Martin Verkerk in 2003.



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