Tuesday Schedule: Djokovic-Cecchinato and Thiem-Zverev

Tuesday Schedule: Djokovic-Cecchinato and Thiem-Zverev

Tuesday Schedule: Djokovic-Cecchinato and Thiem-Zverev

But in the last 12 months of so, there have been signs that another generation is gearing up for its turn-maybe not this year, but soon.

Somehow, Cecchinato won the one that mattered most, the last.

"I have known of him for many years", Djokovic said after his 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 victory over No. 30 Fernando Verdasco.

The two great friends, who met in the US Open final previous year - won by Stephens - will face each other in the last four at Roland Garros. Striking the ball harder and with more spin and holding serve easily he always looked the more likely player to make the first move and his chance came in the seventh game.

There already has been rain at Roland Garros on Tuesday, and there is more in the forecast, so it could be a stop-and-start afternoon.

Next up for the Sicilian is Austrian Thiem, the last man to beat claycourt master and 10-times French Open champion Rafa Nadal on his favourite surface.

He and Zverev were certainly locked in a promising rivalry thus far.

The Austrian is set to face second-seeded Zverev, who knocked out Karen Khachanov of Russian Federation 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 in a marathon match that lasted three hours and 29 minutes.

Zverev and Thiem have always been identified as the two younger players most likely to threaten Rafael Nadal's dominance on clay. What neither lacked was fight.

He made a decision to carry on, but looked nothing like the player who had been tipped by some to win Roland Garros.

Zverev refused to blame his injury on the near 11 hours he had spent on court in his last three rounds against Dusan Lajovic, Damir Dzumhur and Karen Khachanov, each of whom he had beaten after trailing by two sets to one.

Will fatigue affect Zverev after three five-setters on the trot?

He insisted that he was fit enough to cope-and his long-term training regime since he was 16 with the formidable Jez Green in control had certainly worked its magic.

The Serbian 12-time Grand Slam victor stepped it up a gear in the third and overwhelmed Verdasco with grueling groundstrokes to kill the match in two and a half hours.

But it soon become apparent that Zverev had some stiffness in his hamstring, and Thiem was quickly running him ragged with drop shots, lobs and more. He could manage only nine points in the set. Slovenian Klepac and Spain's Martinez Sanchez won 6-4 6-7 (4/7) 6-0. The Austrian offered up a break-back point with a double fault, but compensated with remarkable reactions at the net, threw in another drop/lob combo, and led 3-1.

"I'm very happy about being in the quarter-finals here", Zverev said. It got even worse for the Japanese player in the second set as Thiem toyed with him. The latest gritty victory came with the usual temper flare-ups from Zverev (right). Forehand errorA forehand error by Zverev offered up a couple of break points and Thiem converted with a dipping crosscourt backhand that left Zverev wrong-footed. He chatted with himself during changeovers - "I like to talk", he said later - and dropping down onto the red clay after one last backhand victor on match point. Cecchinato next faces Austrian Dominic Thiem for a place in Sunday's final. I didn't think about it too much. It was the best I felt the ball.

"For sure, he's playing the tennis of his life".

Dominic Thiem believes he is better equipped to handle the pressure of a third consecutive French Open semi-final after thrashing Alexander Zverev on Tuesday.

"At the Grand Slams, there are the big four". My first quarter. I lost to a great player.

To reach such a final against Nadal, Thiem will now have to beat that fellow single-hander, Marco Cecchinato-perhaps just the boost he needs to reach his first Major final.

"I'm young. I might as well stay on court and entertain you guys", the 21-year-old Zverev joked with the crowd. Their time must come-eventually.

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