For the first time in his ATP tennis career, Marco Cecchinato of Palermo, Italy reached the semi final of a major tournament, in somewhat of a “Cinderella” type story. The currently ranked 72nd player in the world made some serious strides at the 2018 French Open by beating some of the worlds’ top players, all the while keeping his cool and staying focused on playing his game with racquet in hand.
Marco Cecchinato: Path to Semis
Here’s where the “storia alla Cenerentola” truly begins at this years French Open. The Italian faced 94th ATP ranked player, Marius Copil of Romania. But that was no easy task for Marco, having to come back from a 2 sets to love deficit; he stormed back in won the remaining 3 sets to get to the second round.
In the second round, Cecchinato faced a lucky closer Marco Trungelliti of Argentina with an ATP ranking of 190. This was an easier task for him than his first round, beating the Argentine in straights 6-1, 7-6, 6-1. He next faced the number ten seed, Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta. This was his first real test on the red clay of Paris. The Spaniard had been having a decent 18 months of tennis, reaching the quarters of the 2017 French Open and the Semifinals of the US Open in 2017. Marco Cecchinato went toe-to-toe with Pablo and took it to him in 4 sets.
The fourth round of the 2018 French Open, Marco Cecchinato was faced yet another seeded player, David Goffin. While Goffin is small in stature, he lets his tennis racquet do the talking. Having reached the second week of all 4 majors during his career, as well as reaching the finals at the World Tour Finals in 2017. That player definitely did not show up to play against Marco Cecchinato in the fourth round. The Italian took it to the Belgian in 4 sets, while giving Goffin a nice warm bagel in the third set.
Marco Cecchinato: David vs Goliath
This is where Marco Cecchinato’s Cinderella story gets more interesting. The Italian now faced former French Open Champion, former World #1, Novak Djokovic. Surely the odds were against Marco, standing no real chance and no real business being in the Quarterfinals against a skinny Djokovic. Nonetheless, Marco stayed his course and just kept playing. He cruised through the first set with a 6-3 scoreline. Went to a close tie-breaker in the second, and got his Italian buns handed to him in the third (1-6).
The fourth set got a lot more interesting. Novak opened the set with an easy break and hold, and raced off to a 3-1 lead. Yeah, even I thought this match was in the bag. Marco Cecchinato looked a little lost in that fourth set, looking to his box for encouragement (he even received a warning for on-court coaching). Yet, somehow, Marco Cecchinato figured out a way to claw himself out of the quickly closing hole that he was in with Djokovic.
With a quick break, the Italian squared it all back up to 3-all and went on to win most of the points that he played. He was simply outplaying Novak Djokovic. He kept his head straight and nose to the grindstone; and some how found himself in fourth set tiebreak, against one of the sports greatest returners that has ever played. This was surely the end of Marco Cecchinato’s Cinderella story.
Novak looked terrible, really. He was missing wide and into the net. Nothing seemed to be going his way. Thankfully, Marco Cecchinato was there to work and get sh!t done. He came to win and it showed, Marco kept his pace and never let Djokovic get much of a breath in to capitalize on the few mini-breaks he got.
In the end, Marco Cecchinato came out on top with a 13-11 victory in a fourth set tie break! Semifinals here you are.
Marco Cecchinato: Semifinals against Dominic Thiem
This is going to be a tasty matchup. I don’t think that Marco will have enough in him, after an emotional victory over Djokovic to pull this one out. I hope he does, but I’m not entirely convinced he can. What do you think?