French Open

Andy Murray to face Stan Wawrinka in French Open semi-finals, as Rafa Nadal eases through to meet Dominic Thiem

Scot shrugs of a sluggish start to stage a comeback for a 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-0), 6-1 defeat of Japanese ace and a place in his fourth straight Roland Garros semi-finals

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 June, 2017, 10:17am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 June, 2017, 10:17am

Andy Murray shrugged of a sluggish start, staging a comeback on Wednesday for a 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-0), 6-1 defeat of Kei Nishikori and a place in his fourth straight French Open semi-finals.

Murray, a 2016 finalist, will next face 2015 winner Stan Wawrinka.

Wawrinka won his eighth straight match against Marin Cilic, 6-3, 6-3, 6-1.

Murray’s win earned revenge for a loss against Nishikori in a US Open quarter-final nine months ago.

Murray worked out of danger after dropping the first set to Nishikori with the 30-year-old finding a way.

“I’m pleased with how I turned the match around,” Murray said. “It was not a good first set, I struggled at the start of the second.

“But I made adjustments and got myself back into it. It was not my best tennis today. I got through in difficult conditions and finished strong.”

Murray will hope to repeat his 2016 defeat of Wawrinka at Roland Garros.

But with the Swiss not having lost a set so far, the task will be a challenge.

“I have to dictate as many points as I can,” Murray said. “Stan is strong and likes to go for his shots.

“He’s playing well, I’ll need to take it to him and play some good tennis if I’m to win.”

Djokovic stunned by Thiem in French Open quarters

At the bottom of the draw, Dominic Thiem dismissed Novak Djokovic, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, 6-0, to set up a semi with heavy title tip Rafael Nadal, who edged closer to a dream 10th French Open title as opponent Pablo Carreno Busta retired with an abdominal injury after 52 minutes, trailing 6-2, 2-0.

Second seed Djokovic was a shadow of the player who a year ago completed a career grand slam by winning Roland Garros for the first time to hold all four major trophies simultaneously.

Nadal stands two wins from another trophy as title odds improve for the 31-year-old.

“I am in semi-finals with a very positive feelings,” Nadal said. “I played well in all the matches here. I have positive feelings and am playing well. This was obviously was not the perfect way and especially against a good friend.”

The fourth seed claimed his 100th career victory in a best-of-five-set match on clay. His 100-2 record includes his only pair of Roland Garros defeats: against Robin Soderling in the 2009 fourth round and Djokovic in the 2015 quarter-finals.

Simona Halep made a dramatic recovery from a set and 5-1 down, showing fighting spirit in a 3-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-0 defeat of Elina Svitolina on Wednesday for a place in the semi-finals.

The comeback victory counted as one of the best wins of the Romanian’s career, three months after her Australian coach Darren Cahill temporarily dropped her due to her negative attitude.

That cloud was definitely lifted at Roland Garros, with Halep now standing one win away from duplicating her 2014 final at the event.

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“Today I showed that I’m stronger mentally. I stayed there till the end, even if I was a little bit upset during the match,” Halep said. “But was all positive. This comeback is special because it’s quarter-finals of grand slam. It’s a nice feeling. The best thing is that ... I didn’t give up. So this is the most important thing for me, and I just want to take this. The match was good. She played well. Then I played better. So all is good.”

Were she to win the title on Saturday, Halep would take over the number one ranking for the first time.

Halep will face off in Thursday’s semi against second seed Karolina Pliskova, who booked her spot with a 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 defeat of Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia.

Halep owns that series, winning four of five matches against the Czech.

Halep began her comeback in the nick of time in the second set, coming from 1-5 to 5-5 and levelling in a tiebreaker. Along the way she saved a match point.

The Romanian left nothing to chance in the third set, running away with it to love in 20 minutes to ensure victory.

Pliskova improved to 3-2 over Garcia as she beat the French player for the second time this season.

“Before this tournament I was struggling on clay with almost everything,” the Czech said. “I didn’t have my weapons on my side and the movement was terrible. But somehow I’m just winning. Today I can finally say I felt a little bit better on the court compared to the last matches.”