Italian world number 72 Marco Cecchinato hailed “the best moment” of his life after beating David Goffin to reach the French Open quarter-finals on Sunday, just two years since being embroiled in a match-fixing scandal.

Cecchinato, who was suspended for 18 months by the Italian tennis federation in July 2016 for fixing before later being cleared of any wrongdoing, will next face 12-time Grand Slam champion and his former practice partner Novak Djokovic.

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.

His 7-5, 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 victory over eighth seed Goffin in the fourth round followed a four-set win against 10th-seeded Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta.

“For me, this is the best moment of my life. Maybe it’s a dream, because now I’m very, very happy for this match,” said Cecchinato.

“I started the year playing very well, so now this is the best moment of my life because I feel every match is good.”

The fixing scandal focused on a second-tier Challenger match he lost to Kamil Majchrzak in Morocco in 2015, with his country’s federation banning him and fellow Italians Riccardo Accardi and Antonio Campo.

Cecchinato, though, later had his suspension reduced to 12 months, before it was scrapped completely and he returned to the Tour.

At the time, he had been the highest-ranked player to be banned for fixing, while his fine of €40,000 ($46,634) was also overturned.

But now he is the first Italian man to reach the quarter-finals in Paris since Fabio Fognini in 2011 and is guaranteed at least €380,000 in prize money, having had total career earnings of less than one million euros before arriving in Paris.

Should Fognini beat third seed Marin Cilic in the last 16 on Monday, it will be the first time Italy has had two men in the last eight since 1973.

It will be tough for Cecchinato to continue his remarkable run, though, with Djokovic starting to look closer to his best form after slipping to 22 in the rankings.

“For me it’s amazing. It’s a pleasure playing against Novak in quarter-final at Roland Garros,” said the Italian who told reporters that he would not discuss the scandal that could have ended his career.

“I feel very good, because every match I play very well. Now I beat David Goffin, (who) is one of the best players in the world.”

Former world number one Djokovic, who would face either second seed Alexander Zverev or Austrian Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals should he beat Cecchinato, hasn’t reached the last four at a Grand Slam since the 2016 US Open.

“I have known of him for many years,” Djokovic said after seeing off Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to reach a record 12th French Open quarter-final.

“I know now his game and I practiced with him, I watched him play. For sure, he’s playing the tennis of his life.

“Even though he’s not a seeded player, he’s still in the quarter-final. He deserves respect and he’s got nothing to lose in our next match. So I’ll approach it very seriously.”