Rafel Nadal’s path to an 11th French Open title looks even smoother after Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev were sent packing.
Former world number one Djokovic was stunned in the quarter-finals at Roland Garros by world number 72 Marco Cecchinato, and then cast doubt over whether he will play at Wimbledon.
Italian Cecchinato won in four sets, scrambling over the line in an epic tie-break on his fourth match point.
He replied: “I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m going to play on grass. I don’t know. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I just came from the court. Sorry, guys, I can’t give you that answer. I cannot give you any answer.
“How do I regroup? I don’t know. I’m just not thinking about tennis at the moment.”
His comments will give Wimbledon chiefs a headache, especially with fresh doubts cast over Andy Murray’s participation after he pulled out his planned comeback in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Holland.
Zverev admitted his exertions had finally caught up with him after exiting to Dominic Thiem.
Second seed Zverev had fought through three consecutive five-setters and spent almost two and a half hours longer on court than Thiem.
So it came as no surprise when the 21-year-old German began to cramp up badly and Thiem ending his entertaining run with a comprehensive 6-4 6-2 6-1 victory.
“How close was I to pulling out? I thought about it. I definitely thought about it,” said Zverev.
“I knew I wasn’t going to win the match. There was no way for me. I mean, I could barely move. I couldn’t serve. I couldn’t really do anything.”
For Thiem, the seventh seed from Austria, a third consecutive Paris semi-final and a meeting with Cecchinato beckons.
World number one and red-hot favourite Nadal, yet to drop a set in the tournament, faces Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman in his quarter-final on Wednesday.
Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys ensured there will be an American in this year’s French Open final.
The two great friends, who met in the US Open final last year – won by Stephens – will face each other in the last four at Roland Garros. Stephens brushed aside young Russian Daria Kasatkina while Keys also went through in straight sets against Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan.
this article first appeared in the Irish Examiner