French Open PHOTOS: Murray, Wawrinka face-off in semis; Djokovic, Serena advance to quarters
Britain’s Andy Murray set up a mouthwatering semi-final with defending champion Stan Wawrinka at the French Open in Roland Garros on Wednesday.
Second seed Murray reached his fourth semi-final on the red dirt by fighting back to defeat home favourite Richard Gasquet 5-7, 7-6 (7/3), 6-0, 6-2.
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.
Thirty-one-year-old, Wawrinka 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.
Wawrinka is the oldest semi-finalist in Paris since 32-year-old Jimmy Connors in 1985.
The third-seeded Wawrinka 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," said Wawrinka.
"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.
Murray leads his head-to-head 8-7 with Wawrinka but the Swiss star has won their last three meetings as well as their only two matches on clay.
Champion Serena Williams swatted aside the limp challenge of Elina Svitolina 6-1, 6-1 to reach the quarter-finals.
The world number one rarely sparkled on a damp, dank centre court at Roland Garros, but always wielded enough firepower to see off the Ukrainian 18th seed in a match that was delayed by two days due to the fickle Parisian weather.
Empty green seats outnumbered raincoat-clad fans by around five to one on the Parisian showcourt, and the heavy, slow balls meant there was little artistry to entice greater numbers.
Although spluttering from time to time -- Williams fired the odd serve alarmingly long; netted the occasional simple groundstroke -- the top seed always did enough to neuter her scurrying opponent.
The American will play Carla Suarez Navarro or Yulia Putintzeva for a spot in the semis.
Novak Djokovic recovered from a mediocre start to reach the quarter-finals on Wednesday with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-5 rain-delayed victory over plucky Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut.
The world No 1, chasing the only Grand Slam title to elude him, will take on Czech seventh seed Tomas Berdych, who beat former runner-up David Ferrer of Spain 6-3, 7-5, 6-3.
After conceding the opening set in damp conditions on Tuesday, Serbian Djokovic played tighter and had won the second set and was 4-1 ahead in the third when rain cut short his victory charge on day 10 of the championships.
Back on Court Philippe Chatrier on Wednesday for a match that should have been played on Monday, Djokovic closed it out but encountered stiff resistance from the 14th seed, who forced him into lung-busting rallies.
"He's a player with great qualities on claycourts. I have the feeling I played three matches against him," said Djokovic, wearing courtside interviewer Fabrice Santoro's yellow rain hat.