Cecchinato stuns Djokovic at Roland Garros

Many tennis fans, and even players such as Genie Bouchard, didn’t know the name Marco Cecchinato before his French Open quarter-final with Novak Djokovic.

But Djokovic knew who he was, because he said they often practice together in Monte Carlo.

Whether you are a pro or a club-level player, your level of skill and comfort will rise if you often practice with someone better than you. This appears to be the case with Cecchinato. He remarkably kept his composure in long rallies with Djokovic and then pulled the trigger to hit winners at the right times.

Djokovic can practice with almost anybody in the world. He wouldn’t practice with Cecchinato in Monte Carlo if he didn’t think Marco was any good. Djokovic clearly saw something in him.

Cecchinato’s ranking will rocket from 72 to somewhere in the top 30 after the French Open. Is he going to stay there?

His form reminds some of Stan Wawrinka, who also hit Djokovic off the court in the French Open final in 2015. Cecchinato is only 25, and he has survived accusations of match fixing.

The Italian Federation accused him of betting on himself to lose a match — which he lost — in Morocco. It’s not clear if Cecchinato, originally from Palermo, Sicily, was a victim of blackmail pressured into losing on court. He was let off on a technicality, and wasn’t banned or punished. It’s not clear if he was involved in other betting scandals in tennis.

It’s interesting to note that hours before the Cecchinato-Djokovic match, police arrested 13 men across Europe in an alleged match-fixing ring. That might be a huge relief — or scare — for a number of players allegedly pressured into fixing the outcomes of their own matches.

Cecchinato wants people to remember him for other reasons. He was beaming with joy in his press conference. He said his victory over Djokovic was the best moment of his life. He declined to answer a European reporter’s questions about the match fixing scandal.

If Marco can stay focussed on tennis, he has the potential to beat other top players, especially on clay, for years to come.

(words and images by Christopher Johnson Globalite Media, all rights reserved)

 

As for Djokovic, much will depend on his health and mentality. He appeared to suffer problems in his neck, shoulder and legs during the Cecchinato match.

 

 

 

After his loss, he rushed directly across the Roland Garros grounds to the media center and reportedly insisted on doing a quick press conference in a smaller room with poor lighting. He appeared devastated and shell-shocked, as many reporters were. He said he didn’t know if he would play Wimbledon or other grass events.

 

When the dust of Paris settles around Djokovic, he can look back at a relatively positive French Open. He’s not only “back in the locker room” as he quipped after his loss. He’s back playing some of the most compelling and entertaining tennis on the tour.

His frustration with losing shows that he thinks he should be reaching the semi-finals or finals at a grand slam. He was perhaps only a few misses away from achieving that goal. If he can reset mentally and see the past week in a better light, he might be a serious contender to win Wimbledon again.

 

(words and images by Christopher Johnson Globalite Media, all rights reserved)

 

 

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