Cecchinato Names His Favourite Roland Garros Moment
For Marco Cecchinato, who fell to Dominic Thiem 7-5, 7-6(10), 6-1, the lasting memory of his surprise run to the Roland Garros semi-finals wasn't when he ousted 2016 champion Novak Djokovic in a 24-point tie-break during the quarter-finals, one of the moments of the fortnight. It also wasn't when Cecchinato, down two sets to love in the first round, came back to beat Romania's Marius Copil 10-8 in the fifth set to secure his maiden Grand Slam victory.
The finest memory for Cecchinato, who captivated tennis fans across the world, was when the fans shouted the love back at the Italian.
“I think today, all day, on Philippe-Chatrier, every point, [the fans] said 'Forza, Marco'. So I think this is the best moment for me. Against Dominic Thiem, he is Top 10, and today all the people were for me,” Cecchinato said.
It's worth repeating: the Italian had not won a Grand Slam match before Roland Garros, having gone 0-4 since the 2015 US Open. But then he defeated Copil, Argentine lucky loser Marco Trungelliti, 10th seed Pablo Carreno Busta, eighth seed David Goffin and former No. 1 Djokovic to make the semi-finals. Cecchinato became the lowest-ranked Roland Garros semi-finalist since No. 100 Andrei Medvedev 19 years ago.
“[It] was the special tournament for me. I played two sets the same level against Dominic Thiem. I think he's the second- or third-best player on red clay,” Cecchinato said. “The level is very good in this moment. And after Roland Garros, I am very, very happy.”
Cecchinato reminded everyone that his run didn't come from completely out of nowhere. The 25-year-old Italian, as a lucky loser, won his maiden ATP World Tour title in April on clay at the Gazprom Hungarian Open in Budapest. Prior to that, Cecchinato had been 5-29 in tour-level matches.
“I think I started two months ago, not the last two weeks, because I won also Budapest... So I start to play very well in Monte-Carlo, I think. And so every week I play very, very well... and I want to continue like this,” Cecchinato said.
The Italian, currently No. 72 in the ATP Rankings, is expected to climb to a new career-high of No. 27 when the new rankings are released on Monday. He has his eyes set on even more elusive territory.
“For me, it is very important today, because I [was] playing against Dominic. So I need more work [to get to] Top 10 or Top 20, so these matches are very important for me,” Cecchinato said. “I think it's possible to compete every day, I think, because every match I played very well against Top 10, Top 20, Top 30. So now I think positive and maybe I can go also Top 20.”