Struggling with an elbow injury, Novak Djokovic played just 12 games between Wimbledon in 2017 and Roma in 2018. After a slow start to the 2018 season, Djokovic reached the semifinals of the Rome Masters and expected more at Roland Garros.
Novak got four wins to advance to the quarterfinals in Paris, and was the favorite against world number 72 Marco Cecchinato. Marco won 12 ATP victories against Roland Garros and the Majors.
However, this was no obstacle for him, as he advanced to the round of 16 and beat Novak 6-3, 7-6, 1-6, 7-6 in three hours and 26 minutes. a place in the semifinals. Marco became the lowest semifinalist in Paris since Andrei Medvedev in 1999, playing at a high level at crucial moments and overcoming a deficit in the fourth set to avoid a tiebreaker.
Novak restored order in the third set and took a 5-2 lead in the fourth. Still, he failed to take it home and force the turning point, where he would have been the favorite.
Djokovic scored six breaks and scored four more points than his rival thanks to this third set. It was not enough to keep him safe, however, he broke four times and dropped the two tiebreakers to knock on the exit door.
The Italian defended 11 of 17 break points and repelled three set points in the tie-break of the fourth set to come out on top and start a massive celebration.
Cecchinato produced 54 winning games and 41 unforced errors, taming his shots well and mixing his game with flat shots, fall shots and cuts that kept Novak out of his comfort zone.
Marco got off to a good start and dropped just five points on the first shot of the first game. Novak defended two breaks in the second game of the match before giving up his service in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead.
Cecchinato did a good job in the remaining matches and won the first by 6-3 with a powerful serve after only 34 minutes. Djokovic received a neck massage before the second set and found a way to be more competitive.
Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros 2018:
Marco Cecchinato beat Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros 2018. Cecchinato opened a 2-0 lead before Djokovic returned to zero in the fourth game for a boost.
The Serb defended two breaks in the seventh game to stay on the positive side before creating three seven-pointers on the return leg with 6-5. The Italian defended them with brave shots and opened a 5-4 difference in the tie-break after a goal scorer.
Marco got the breaker with 7-5 after a winning serve to open a big two-set lead after an hour and 39 minutes. With no margin for error, Djokovic raised his level in the third set and went 6-1 to extend the battle.
The Serb received a medical timeout on his right leg before the fourth set and took a 3-0 lead after just eight minutes. Novak lost just three points in the first four service games and advanced 5-2 thanks to an early break.
On the verge of losing the set, Marco fell 30-0 to 3-5 when Novak served for the set, getting the winning line and taking a boost. Djokovic saved a breaking point after a prolonged rally in the eleventh game and Cecchinato stayed at 15 in the next to introduce a tie break.
Marco opened a 3-0 lead with a right-footed shot on the line before Novak took the next four points to close the gap and advance. The Italian withdrew a mini-break in the eighth point for a 4-all before the Serb closed out the result at 5-all with a regular net winner.
Cecchinato won 6-5, and Djokovic saved him with a magnificent volley to get the crowd out of their seats. Novak got another volley winner for a 7-6 lead, and missed a seven-point lead with a loose setback.
Djokovic’s second set came and went 8-7 after Cecchinato’s volley, and the Italian defended his third 8-9 after the Serbian’s terrible right.
Novak Djokovic saved the second point of the match with a 9-10 with a direct on the victory line and the third with a 10-11. Djokovic sent a straight line deflected to point 23, and Cecchinato converted his fourth point of the game with a 12-11 after a winning setback.