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Tuesday, 5 June 2018 21:02 PM BST
Roland-Garros Day 10: Cecchinato stuns Djokovic rounds up the action from Day 10 at Roland-Garros 2018. READ MORE

Cecchinato's dream run continues

The resurrection of Novak Djokovic has been put on hold, for now.

The former world No.1 was beaten in the quarter-final of Roland-Garros 6-3, 7-6(4), 1-6, 7-6(11) in a pulsating match full of plot twists by his occasional training partner Marco Cecchinato, the world No.72 who had never so much as won a Grand Slam match before this year in Paris.

Having trailed by two sets to love, Djokovic seemed to have taken control of the match on the Court Suzanne Lenglen as he took the third set in 31 minutes. He had also led 5-2 in the fourth before his 25-year-old opponent fought his way back into the match.

As has often been the case this season in his comeback from elbow surgery, Djokovic, who was once so dominant that he held all four Grand Slam titles at once, mixed the sublime with the inexplicable, sometimes within the same game.

How much his second straight quarter-final defeat at Roland-Garros hurt became abundantly clear during a hastily assembled press conference. Sitting down just minutes after he squandered three set points in a thrilling tie-break and lost the match on Cecchinato's fourth match point, Djokovic seemed to throw his entire grass court season into doubt.

“I don't know if I'm going to play on grass,” the three-time Wimbledon champion Djokovic said, when asked when he was planning to switch surfaces.

Having reunited with his former long-time coach, Marian Vajda, at the start of the clay court season, Djokovic had improved with every tournament he played and by the time he reached Paris, many regarded him as a title contender.

“Any defeat is difficult in the Grand Slams, especially the one that came from months of buildup,” said Djokovic, who had dropped only one set in his first four matches.

“And I thought I had a great chance to get at least a step further, but wasn't to be,” he said. “That's the way it is.”

Cecchinato celebrates

Having defied the odds, Cecchinato fell to the clay after a backhand return winner - his 54th in all - made him the first man from Italy to reach the last four in Paris in 40 years.

“It is unbelievable to beat Novak Djokovic in the quarter-final of Roland-Garros,” he said, after becoming the lowest-ranked Grand Slam semi-finalist since Rainer Schuttler at Wimbledon in 2008. “I played an unbelievable match, I started well on my serve.”

His win over Djokovic will see the Italian surge up the rankings to at least inside the Top 30, meaning he may be seeded for Wimbledon.

“Is good for my opponent in Wimbledon,” said Cecchinato.

Stephens and Keys meet again

Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens set up a rematch of last year's US Open final after both won their quarter-final matches in straight sets.

Keys defeated Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan, 7-6 (5), 6-4, while her friend and US Open champion Sloane Stephens fired 17 winners to beat Russia’s Daria Kasatkina, 6-3, 6-1.

Not bad for two Americans who prefer the faster US hard courts to the red clay.

“I'm definitely liking the clay a little bit more now that I have made a semifinal here,” said Keys.

“To have two Americans in the semi-finals of the French Open is pretty incredible,” said Stephens, who leads Keys 2-0 but has never played her on clay. “That means one American will be in the final of a French Open, which is another amazing thing.”

Thiem tames Zverev

After three five-set matches in a row and close to twelve hours on the court to get to his first Grand Slam quarter-final, an ailing Zverev finally ran out of steam against Thiem.

Billed as one of the clashes of the tournament between the two leading players in terms of match wins on the men’s tour this season, their second meeting at Roland-Garros never lived up to expectations.

The German No.2 seed was broken six times and tweaked a muscle in the first set, eventually losing 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 to Thiem, who only faced two break points and never dropped serve.

“I knew I'm not going to win the match,” said Zverev, adding he had considered retiring but didn’t out of respect for his opponent, whom he beat beaten in Madrid a few weeks before Roland-Garros.

“There was no way for me. I mean, I could barely move. I couldn't serve. I couldn't really do anything.”

Thiem will be playing his third straight Roland-Garros semi-final against Cecchinato in what will be their first meeting.

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