Wawrinka blasts past Ramos Vinolas to reach last four
PARIS (Reuters) - Defending champion Stan Wawrinka held off a late charge by Spain's Albert Ramos Vinolas to storm into the French Open semi-finals with a 6-2 6-1 7-6(7) victory on Wednesday.
The third-seeded Swiss, who got off to a slow start in opening rounds of the claycourt grand slam, steamrollered through the first two sets and resisted in the third on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
That sets up a mouthwatering meeting with world number two Andy Murray, who saw off Frenchman Richard Gasquet in four sets and is a player the Swiss rates highly.
"I think he's been an amazing player for many, many years. He always tries to ... be a better player. The way he's improved on clay is quite impressive," Wawrinka told a news conference.
"We've normally had some good battles in the past... But if you were to compare our two careers he's well ahead of me... He's in the Big Four (and) there is a reason for this."
In Wednesday's match, Wawrinka used his rapier-like single-handed backhand to move Ramos-Vinolas around the court and it took the unseeded left-hander more than two sets to adjust.
After breaking back in the third, he forced a tiebreak and even had a set point but Wawrinka saved it and raised his arms in celebration when Ramos Vinolas's forehand sailed long on match point.
While world number one Novak Djokovic only finished his fourth-round match on Wednesday after the tie was delayed by rain, Wawrinka is already through to the last four, though the Swiss played down any advantage that might give him.
"For sure in a grand slam I like to start as early as possible... (but) it's not because you're in the good side of the draw that you're gonna win the tournament," he said
After labouring through the first game, Wawrinka crushed Ramos Vinolas to take the first two sets in less than an hour.
He seemed en route to dishing out a drubbing when he broke in the third, but Ramos-Vinolas played longer balls, putting the Swiss on the back foot to send the set into a tiebreak.
A string of unforced errors by Wawrinka meant the Spaniard had a set point at 7-6 but Wawrinka forced a backhand error and won the two remaining points.
On the other hand, Andy Murray defeated Richard Gasquet in four sets, 5-7 7-6(3) 6-0 6-2, to set up a mouth-watering clash with Wawrinka.
In particular, the Briton was excited about the last four clash with the defending champion.
"(Stan) is obviously playing great tennis," he said. "It is going to be extremely difficult (but) hopefully I can play my best tennis and reach my first final here", he said.