But after missing break point chances for a 5-1 lead a poor service game when serving to level the match at 5-3 handed the Italian a lifeline in the set. I just came from the court. There were moments in that tiebreak when it felt like Djokovic would force the final set and then there was a freakish moment, when Djokovic skied the ball when he could have taken the set.
On Tuesday, his 6-3, 7-6, 1-6, 7-6 victory over Novak Djokovic sent him through to the semifinals of a Grand Slam event, a remarkable achievement for a man who broke into the world's top 100 only in November.
"I had a lot of courage, especially toward the end of the tiebreaker", Cecchinato said.
Cecchinato struggled to comprehend his triumph, coming just two years after his career was nearly derailed when he became embroiled in match-fixing allegations.
"I knew I'm not going to win the match".More news: Allies hit back at Trump’s steel, aluminium tariffs
In the women's draw, Madison Keys is into the last four at Roland Garros for the first time in her career after seeing off the challenge of the unseeded Yulia Putintseva.
Djokovic was back with his former coach, Marián Vajda, who said Djokovic was not at his best at Roland Garros, but improving.
The 31-year-old Serb said he did not "want to talk about tennis right now".
"I don't know. I don't know what I'm going to do".
The last Italian man to take part in a major semi-final was Corrado Barazzutti at the 1978 French Open.
The 10th seed produced a clinical performance to down Kasatkina 6-3, 6-1 on Court Philippe Chatrier, firing 17 winners.More news: Neymar scores in return; Brazil tops Croatia
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.
"For me, it's the first time semi-final grand slam".
The 25-year-old, who was ranked 957 just six weeks before her maiden Grand Slam triumph last year after a series of injury problems, is now into the last four of a major for the third time.
Stephens will face Keys in an all-American battle for a spot in the French Open final.
Djokovic refused to enter the main press room at Roland Garros after his shock defeat, instead opting to speak to a few journalists in a smaller room where he offered nothing but short answers.
"Honestly, the (US) Open feels like it was 12 years ago at this point", said Keys, who is yet to drop a set in the tournament. 'Well, it's never been hard for me to congratulate and hug an opponent that just we shared a great moment on the court. "It feels completely different here".More news: What the Media Overlooked in Trey Gowdy Interview