Full of angst, Murray reaches French Open semis vs. Wawrinka
PARIS — Entertaining as his French Open quarterfinal might have been, Andy Murray hardly enjoyed the experience.
"When you're out there," Murray said, "I personally find it quite stressful."
You don't say?
Yelling at his entourage and muttering to himself, the No. 2-seeded Murray alternated between brilliant and bad for the better part of two sets while dealing with a French opponent and a partisan crowd Wednesday, before righting things to beat No. 9 Richard Gasquet 5-7, 7-6 (3), 6-0, 6-2 and reach his fourth semifinal at Roland Garros.
"I thought I did well, for the most part, in a tough atmosphere," said Murray, whose next opponent is defending champion Stan Wawrinka, a 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (7) winner against 55th-ranked Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
Murray had a much tougher time. He led 5-2 in each of the first two sets and got broken while serving for both at 5-3. Then he trailed 3-1 in the second-set tiebreaker, a critical moment.
"Had I won the second set," Gasquet lamented later, "it would have been a totally different match."
He didn't, of course. After Murray's ace made it 3-2, Gasquet got to a drop shot and wound up for what should have been an easy one-handed backhand, his signature shot. The ball clipped the net tape, though, allowing Murray a putaway for a winner.
That, basically, was that.
Hoping to see Gasquet become the first Frenchman to hoist the trophy since Yannick Noah in 1983, spectators urged him on with choruses of "Ree-shard!" They even loved a tremendous point Gasquet lost, when he wound up flat on his back, leaving his arms, legs, shirt, socks and shoes caked with the rust-colored dirt.
Murray's white hat was smudged with clay, too. His entire being was smothered with angst.
He pointed at his temple. He screamed, "Hit it! Just hit it!" He looked up the folks in his guest box, including coach Jamie Delgado, and shouted various complaints.
Now he can regroup Thursday, when the quarterfinals in the top half of the men's draw will be played: No. 1 Novak Djokovic against No. 7 Tomas Berdych, and No. 12 David Goffin against No. 13 Dominic Thiem. Their fourth-round matches began Tuesday.
Because of showers, zero points were played Monday, and only about 2 hours' worth were contested Tuesday. All the rain tightened the schedule and players will compete several days in a row to get to the final, instead of enjoying a major's usual off-days. With more rain in the forecast, the prospect of completing the tourney by Sunday is iffy.
Aiming to win his fourth consecutive major and complete a career Grand Slam, Djokovic continued his charm offensive with the fans after a 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-5 victory over No. 14 Roberto Bautista Agut, cajoling a ball boy to join him in bowing, then donning a floppy yellow hat.
Later, the first women's semifinal matchup was established, with No. 4 Garbine Muguruza ending the surprising run of 108th-ranked American Shelby Rogers 7-5, 6-3, and 2011 U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur eliminating Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria 6-4, 7-6 (6).
And in fourth-round matches originally slated for Monday, No. 9 Venus Williams lost, while her sister, No. 1 Serena, won.
With the temperature around 60 degrees, Venus warmed up in a zipped-up coat, something that seemed more appropriate for winter. She came up short in a bid to get to the quarterfinals for the first time in a decade, dropping eight games in a row during a 6-2, 6-4 loss to No. 8 Timea Bacsinszky.
Venus slipped to her knees at the baseline on one point and produced only six winners, compared to 24 unforced errors. "The first few games she made some errors," Williams said, "and in the last 12 games, I made all the errors."
Bacsinszky will play 58th-ranked Kiki Bertens, whose first Grand Slam quarterfinal came via a 7-6 (4), 6-3 victory over No. 15 Madison Keys.
Defending champion Serena defeated 18th-seeded Elina Svitolina 6-1, 6-1. She looked very much like a 21-time Grand Slam champion facing a 21-year-old who has reached only one major quarterfinal, and she now faces unseeded Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan.
"Of course she's the best player," Putintseva said. "She's a legend."