French Open Round-Up: Stan Wawrinka to face Andy Murray in semi-finals
After two days of inclement weather, the Paris sky finally shone bright on Wednesday as the 2016 French Open had its first full day of play since Sunday. And the schedule was, without a doubt, absolutely packed.
Defending men’s champion Stan Wawrinka booked himself a much-anticipated semi-final meeting with the second seed Andy Murray. The Swiss emerged a 6-2, 6-1, 7-6(7) winner over surprise quarter-finalist Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain, who had upset the eighth seed Milos Raonic in the fourth round.
For Murray, who, like Wawrinka, is also seeking his third Grand Slam title, it was a slightly tougher battle as he had to face the local hope and ninth seed Richard Gasquet. The Frenchman, who had stretched the Briton to five sets at this venue in 2010, grabbed the first set. But the Rome champion, who had been one of the standout performers on clay this season, fought back for the 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-0, 6-2 victory.
Murray and Wawrinka have played each other 15 times with the World No. 2 holding a slim edge of 8-7 even though the Swiss has won their last three meetings.
Novak Djokovic: The Million Dollar Man
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, meanwhile, made news on and off the court. He first battled hard with the 14th seed Roberto Bautista Agut for a 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-5 win that sealed his place in his 28th successive Grand Slam quarter-final. That also helped the Serb to engrave his name in the record books as he became the first tennis player ever to cross the US$100 million mark in prize money earnings.
He is next set to face the sixth seed Tomas Berdych, who prevailed 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 over the 2013 runner-up David Ferrer.
The last quarter-final will be fought between two men who will be making their debut appearances in the last-eight of Roland Garros. One of the fastest-rising youngsters, Dominic Thiem reached the last-eight courtesy of a 6-2, 6-7(2), 6-1, 6-4 triumph over Spain’s Marcel Granollers. The 22-year-old, who has won three titles in 2016, became the first Austrian since Jurgen Melzer in 2010 to make it through to the quarters.
12th seeded David Goffin is the other debutant, who too needed four sets to see off former semi-finalist Ernests Gulbis 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3.
Serena cruises into quarters
On her birthday, four-time champion Justine Henin watched helplessly as her ward – the 18th seeded Elina Svitolina – could get only two games against her familiar foe and World No. 1 Serena Williams. The women’s defending champion was in imperious form as she broke the Ukrainian six times during her 6-1, 6-1 blowout win in Round 4.
The 34-year-old, who is chasing her 22nd Major title, will be squaring off against the talented 21-year-old Yulia Putintseva, who is also making her Grand Slam quarter-final debut. The young Kazakh gave a testimony of her skills when she toppled the 12th seed Carla Suarez Navarro, 7-5, 7-5.
Putintseva was not the only one breaking new ground at Roland Garros this year. Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands, ranked 58th, reached the second week of a Major for the very first time with a 7-6(4), 6-3 upset win over the 15th seed and Rome runner-up Madison Keys.
The road, however, gets trickier for Bertens now with the 2015 semi-finalist Timea Bacsinszky up against her in the quarter-finals. The Rabat titlist looked very impressive during her 6-2, 6-4 demolition of former World No. 1 Venus Williams.
There was good news for two other players who have had very good results in Paris in the past. 2010 runner-up Samantha Stosur continues her resurgence by reaching the French Open semi-finals for the first time since 2012. The Australian, now seeded 21st, was trailing World No. 102 Tsvetana Pironkova 2-4, 0-40 from where she rebounded for a 6-4, 7-6(6) victory, saving two set points in the second set.
Muguruza third time lucky
Her next opponent looks to be getting better and better with every match. Fourth seed Garbine Muguruza became third time lucky after winning a Paris quarter-final for the first time following defeats the last two years.
The 22-year-old came back from a set point down in the first set to end the dream run of the 108th ranked American Shelby Rogers 7-5, 6-3.