Murray, Wawrinka in semi clash
ANDY Murray and defending champion Stan Wawrinka are set for a mouthwatering French Open semi-final duel on Wednesday as Novak Djokovic became the first player to smash the US$100 million (S$138 million) prize money barrier.
No. 2 seed Murray reached the semi-finals in Paris for a fourth time by battling back to defeat Richard Gasquet 5-7, 7-6 (7/3), 6-0, 6-2.
Wawrinka, the 31-year-old No. 3 seed, became the oldest man since 1985 to reach the semi-finals with a 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (9/7) win over Spain's Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
Gasquet, bidding to end France's 33-year-wait for a French champion, reeled off five straight games to recover from 5-2 down and claim the opening set in front of a raucous Philippe Chatrier Court crowd.
But former US Open and Wimbledon champion Murray won a second set tie-break before claiming 12 of the next 14 games. Murray leads 8-7 in his matches against Wawrinka but the Swiss star has won their last three meetings as well as their only two matches on clay.
"Stan's played great tennis here the past couple years. It's going to be extremely tough, hopefully I can play my best tennis and try and reach my first final here," said Murray.
Wawrinka is the oldest semi-finalist in Paris since 32-year-old Jimmy Connors in 1985. He was in complete control against world No. 55 Ramos-Vinolas, playing in his first quarter-finals at the majors, firing an impressive 49 winners.
"Overall, I played a good match with an incredible level in the first two sets," he said."I had to dig deep to finish the match. To win in three sets, it's ideal."
Wawrinka, who beat Djokovic in last year's final, will be playing in only his second Roland Garros semi-final.
Top seed Djokovic reached the quarter-finals for the 10th time by defeating 14th seeded Roberto Bautista Agut 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-5. It was a tie which started the previous afternoon after rain disruptions had washed out Monday and allowed just two hours of play on Tuesday.
The 29-year-old Serb will next face Czech seventh seed Tomas Berdych. Djokovic has a 23-2 career stranglehold on Berdych.
It will be the top seed's 28th consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final and 36th in all. Djokovic also crossed the US$100 million prize money barrier on Wednesday after beating Bautista Agut.
Djokovic, seeking a first French Open title to complete a career Grand Slam, was 4-1 ahead of Bautista Agut in the third set on Tuesday when play was halted.
But the Serb quickly wrapped up the next two games on Wednesday and despite falling a break down to trail 2-4 in the fourth, he stormed back to claim victory on a second match point.
"With my coaching team, we had some tough talks on Tuesday night," said Djokovic, who had struggled in the heavy conditions and dropped serve five times. "But I came back with more intensity even though it was a tough mental and physical battle."