© Peter Staples/ATP World Tour

Marco Cecchinato won just four of his first 32 tour-level matches. He is now into the Roland Garros quarter-finals.

Cecchinato: 'This Is The Best Moment Of My Life'

The Italian will play Djokovic in the quarter-finals

Before arriving in Budapest at the end of April for the Gazprom Hungarian Open, Marco Cecchinato had won just five of his first 34 tour-level matches. Little did the Italian know that he would go on to capture his maiden ATP World Tour title on the red clay as a lucky loser.

“Maybe it is a dream,” Cecchinato told ATPWorldTour.com at the time.

Little did he know what would come in the weeks ahead. When the World No. 72 began his Roland Garros campaign, he had never won a Grand Slam main draw match. But after defeating reigning Nitto ATP Finals runner-up David Goffin in four sets on Sunday, Cecchinato advanced to the quarter-finals.

“This is the best moment of my life,” Cecchinato said. “Maybe it’s a dream, because now I'm very, very happy for this match.”

Amazingly, the 25-year-old has quadrupled his tour-level win total this year. And now he has made history, by becoming just the second Italian man to reach a major quarter-final since Davide Sanguinetti did so at Wimbledon in 1998. So what has been the difference for the Cecchinato this season?

“Now I start the match every time focused.... I am more aggressive during the match, and so I stay focused every point,” Cecchinato said. “I feel very good, because every match I’ve played very well. Now I beat David Goffin, who is one of the best players in the world.”

And now, after earning his first win against a player inside the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings, Cecchinato takes on someone who will be competing in his ninth consecutive Roland Garros quarter-final: Novak Djokovic.

“It’s amazing,” Cecchinato said. “It’s a pleasure playing against Novak in the quarter-finals at Roland Garros.”

And while this will be the first match in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, they are plenty familiar with one another.

“I have known of him for many years. I have practised with him many times in Monte-Carlo,” Djokovic said. “He trained a lot where I reside, where I live. We trained a lot on hard court, clay courts. And we actually trained this year before the Monte-Carlo tournament.

“For sure, he's playing the tennis of his life. He won his first title recently... To pull out a big upset for Marco is quite impressive. Congratulations to him for a great tournament. And even though he's not a seeded player, he's still in the quarter-finals. He deserves respect and he's got nothing to lose in our next match. So I'll approach it very seriously.”

Cecchinato has nothing to lose — he’s just living a dream.

More stories like this in: