Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka advance at French Open to set up semi-final showdown
Swiss and Scot set up semi-final showdown as the French Open works to get back on schedule after two days of major rain interruptions
Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray on Wednesday set up a key semi-final as the French Open worked to get back on schedule after two days of major rain interruptions.
Murray, reaching a Paris quarter-final for the third consecutive year, rallied after dropping the first set to defeat French crowd favourite Richard Gasquet. Murray scratched out a 5-7, 7-6 (7-3), 6-0, 6-2 fourth-round win.
Wawrinka took a step closer to defending his grand slam title as he dismissed Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (9-7).
Murray led 5-2 in the opening set against Gasquet but managed to lose it in a tiebreaker, before collecting the win with 11 aces and 62 winners as the last hope for the host nation was eliminated.
“To be honest, he just played better than me,” Gasquet, the ninth seed, said.
Murray barely noticed the pro-French fans.
“I’ve played in worse atmospheres,” Murray said. “For sure the crowd were behind him, but it wasn’t too bad.
“I played some really good stuff today, I do think I played well. The match could have been more comfortable had I done a bit better serving out the first two sets.
“I finished extremely well, it wasn’t easy for me today. I had a two-day (weather) break where you’re barely hitting any balls because of the conditions.
“I did well for the most part in a tough atmosphere, it’s not bad.”
Murray has lost three of his last four matches against Wawrinka, also a champion at two grand slams.
Wawrinka will face Murray at a major for the fifth time after beating the 55th-ranked Ramos-Vinolas with nearly 50 winners and five breaks of serve.
In the fourth round, Novak Djokovic took advantage of a rare dry spell to close Roberto Bautista Agut 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-5 at the weather-hit event, where rain is forecast to return on Thursday.
The match, which began in mist on Tuesday, was concluded with an additional 72 minutes on the clay as the top seed reached the Paris quarters for the 10th time.
Djokovic has never won the Roland Garros title, the only grand slam missing from his trophy collection.
The Serbian showed none of the frustration that characterised his demeanour on Tuesday in the wet conditions, which he complained made for dangerous play.
He will play in a Thursday quarter-final against seventh seed Tomas Berdych, who beat Spain’s No 11 David Ferrer 6-3, 7-5, 6-3.
Belgian David Goffin will take on friend and practice partner Dominic Thiem after advancing 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 over Ernests Gulbis.
Thiem, seeded 13th, completed a match begun the days before as he dismissed Marcel Granollers 6-2, 6-7 (2-7), 6-1, 6-4.
“It’s always really good and really tough practices with him. And also he’s a very nice guy. We hang around a little bit outside the court,” Thiem said. “It’s gonna be a very interesting and very nice match to watch.”
Djokovic joked that “weather conditions are something you can’t really affect if you don’t have special abilities. You have to wait and pray for good weather, and that’s what we did.
“Yesterday the match was interrupted three times, it wasn’t easy coming here at 9am. and leaving at 7:30pm or 8pm.
“It was mentally and physically tough to win. I’m very glad to have finished the match today. I had to play concentrated and with intensity. But I was able to save some energy for tomorrow.”
The women’s fourth round was done and dusted in a couple of hours.
The Williams sisters had mixed fortunes, with top-ranked Serena hammering Elina Svitolina 6-1, 6-1 in just over an hour. The seed said that were she to continue in her title bid, playing four matches in four days would not be a major strain.
“When we play regular tournaments you play four, five matches in a row. It’s what happens. In Rome I played four in a row? Five? I don’t know.
“In Miami and Indian Wells you just play every day. It’s something you just get used to. It’s totally fine I think for me and for everyone.”
But elder sister Venus was ousted 6-2, 6-4 by eighth seed Timea Bacsinszky, now one victory away from duplicating her 2015 semi-final after winning eight games in a row from a break down in the first set.
“Being in a quarter-final in a slam is like every player’s dream, this is my third,” Bacsinszky said. “I still sometimes cannot believe it, especially if you have a great win on such a good player.
“She’s definitely an inspiration, because if you see how long she is lasting as a tennis player it’s something unbelievable. Even if she’s struggling with health issues she’s there, she’s super nice with everyone, she’s kind, and she’s been a great tennis player for so many years.
“I have my first win over Venus – it’s just amazing.”
Kazakh Yulia Putintseva scored an upset as she put out Spanish 12th seed Carla Suarez Navarro 7-5, 7-5 while Kiki Bertens beat American 15th seed Madison Keys 7-6 (7-4), 6-3.
In the quarter-finals, Spanish fourth seed Garbine Muguruza, beat Shelby Rogers 7-5, 6-3, while 2010 finalist Samantha Stosur continued to relive history with her 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) defeat of Tatiana Pironkova.