Published: Wed, June 06, 2018
Sport | By Stuart Potter

French Open 2018: Novak Djokovic beats Fernando Verdasco to reach quarter-finals

French Open 2018: Novak Djokovic beats Fernando Verdasco to reach quarter-finals

The Serb, three-times a Wimbledon champion, appeared distraught after his quarter-final defeat by unseeded Marco Cecchinato in which he was treated for neck pain.

But from somewhere Cecchinato got a second wind and took the fourth in a thrilling tie-break, converting a fourth match point to win 6-3 7-6 (7/4) 1-6 7/6 (13-11).

The Bulgarian reached the semi-finals at the Monte Carlo Masters and the last eight in Barcelona, but he suffered first-round exits at the Madrid Open and the Internazionali d'Italia.

"Once you get to the second week, every match obviously has more nerves, and there's more on the line and all of that", said last year's US Open runner-up.

Djokovic claimed a close opening set, clinching the first break in the match in the 10th game to move ahead.

"I was a bit unlucky not to capitalize on the second set", said Djokovic, who improved to 7-1 against Bautista Agut.

After a tight opener was settled by a tiebreak, Verdasco steamed ahead and Dimitrov simply had no answers as he fell 6-7 (4-7) 2-6 4-6 in a match lasting just under two-and-a-half hours - something he suggested has always been the case when playing in the French capital.

"Considering all the circumstances in the last 15 months it is quite an achievement to get to the quarters of a Slam", said Djokovic, who has also reached the Roland Garros last eight for a ninth successive year.

He led Cecchinato 5-2 in the fourth set, but lost the lead.

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Serbia's Novak Djokovic with Spain's Fernando Verdasco after winning their fourth round match.

The 25-year-old had never won a Grand Slam match before this tournament, but showed some good form when winning an ATP clay-court title in Budapest as a lucky loser earlier this year.

Cecchinato said he was stunned by his triumph, coming just two years after his career was nearly derailed when he became embroiled in match fixing allegations.

Like her compatriot and good friend Keys, US Open champion Stephens is in the quarter-finals for the first time and hoping to set up a repeat of last year's final in NY.

Since then, she is 19-6 and she's seeking her second career Grand Slam win.

"I think it's changed my life".

Djokovic, bidding to reach a 32nd Grand Slam semi-final, hit just three winners in the first set.

"I don't know if I'm going to play on grass", Djokovic told a media conference room minutes after walking off court.

"So being and talking like this after the match is for me something normal for a great champion".

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