Marco Cecchinato is a twenty-five year old Italian tennis player, who turned professional in 2010. However, there is much more to this Italian than that simple introductory statement. Like most Italian tennis players there is “a certain flair” to his game.
Two years ago Cecchinato was suspended 18 months for match-fixing, which was subsequently reduced to 12 months and later completely overturned.
He got to his first ATP World Tour singles final this year in Budapest and defeated John Millman in straight sets to claim the Gazprom Hungarian Open title.
He is currently ranked 72 with a career high of 59 earlier this year. This season the Italian had six losses to players ranked outside of the top hundred. He had never won a single match in the Majors; thus, he is playing the best tennis of his life at Roland Garros and this after he almost lost in the first round.
In the third round he took out the tenth seed, Pablo Carreno Busta, 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-1. In the fourth round, he took out the eighth seed, David Goffin, 7-5, 4-6, 6-0, 6-3. In the quarterfinals yesterday he dispatched of the twentieth seed, Novak Djokovic, 6-3, 7-6(4), 1-6, 7-6(11).
At two sets to love against the former number one and French Open champion, the Italian faltered. The prospect of getting the biggest win of his career disrupted his focus and he got tentative. He did not hold serve the entire third set.
Like many Italian players, Cecchinato has no qualms about expressing his emotions (racquet slamming and verbal obscenity resulted in a point penalty at the start of the fourth set). Djokovic got off to an early lead (3-0) in the fourth set just as he did in the third set; however, this time Cecchinato not only fought off numerous break points to go down a second break, he broke back, and held serve to force another tiebreak. The tiebreak was a mini-battle and to the surprise of almost everyone, the Italian wrestled it away from the Serbian.
There is an Italian in the semifinals of the French Open, and it is not Fabio Fognini.
Next up for the Italian is the heir apparent to the throne, the seventh seed Dominic Thiem. They both have one-handed backhands and have never played each other, which backhand will prevail?
SOURCE OF IMAGES: Zimbio.com (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images Europe: Marco Cecchinato)