Italy's Marco Cecchinato celebrates winning his quarter final match against Serbia's Novak Djokovic at the French Open in Paris, France, June 5 2018. Picture: REUTERS
Italy's Marco Cecchinato celebrates winning his quarter final match against Serbia's Novak Djokovic at the French Open in Paris, France, June 5 2018. Picture: REUTERS

Paris — Marco Cecchinato beat former champion and 12-time Major winner Novak Djokovic 6-3 7-6(4) 1-6 7-6(11) at the French Open on Tuesday to become the first Italian man to reach a Grand Slam semifinal in 40 years.

Cecchinato cruised through the opening set as Djokovic was suffering from neck pain before the Serbian fought back after the loss of the second.

His opponent, however, was the stronger in an epic fourth-set tiebreak, prevailing on his fourth match point.

The last Italian man to take part in a Major semifinal was Corrado Barazzutti at the 1978 French Open.

Serbia's Novak Djokovic reacts during his quarter final match against Italy's Marco Cecchinato at the French Open in Paris, France, June 5 2018. Picture: REUTERS
Serbia's Novak Djokovic reacts during his quarter final match against Italy's Marco Cecchinato at the French Open in Paris, France, June 5 2018. Picture: REUTERS

The unseeded Cecchinato, who broke down in tears after the match, next faces Austrian Dominic Thiem for a place in Sunday’s final.

Thiem beat Alexander Zverev who could not hide his frustration at an injury that hampered him.

World No3 Zverev had battled through three consecutive five-setters on his way to the last eight, but his body failed him against claycourt specialist Thiem.

After six opening games were shared, seventh seed Thiem ran away with a 6-4 6-2 6-1 victory to reach his third consecutive semifinal at the French Open.

Zverev needed treatment on his left hamstring in the second set and was clearly hampered as his close friend Thiem put him through the wringer with his trademark groundstrokes.

"First time I felt a pull was in the fourth game of the first set, when we had a lot of physical points," Zverev said.

US Open champion Sloane Stephens powered past Daria Kasatkina in the second set to win 6-3 6-1 and set up a semi-final against fellow American Madison Keys.

"It’s great for American tennis and I’m really excited to play my really good friend," Stephens said.

Reuters