BY: Grant Fisken
It is a strange event in the world of sport when Roger Federer being knocked out of a grand slam in straight sets is not the highest profile Swiss departure of the day. As the football world was coming to terms with Sepp Blatter’s resignation from FIFA, the 17-time major winner was being despatched from the French Open quarterfinal by countryman Stan Wawrinka.
The 2014 Australian Open champion had lost all four of his grand slam matches against Federer, including two at Roland Garros, but he rectified that statistic winning 6-4, 6-3, 7-6, to reach his first French Open semifinal. Such was Wawrinka’s dominance that Federer failed to break serve in a grand slam match for the first time since his fourth round defeat against Max Mirnyi at the 2002 US Open, and will now look ahead at trying to add to his seven Wimbledon titles later in the month.
Wawrinka will meet home favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the last four, after the Frenchman survived a stirring fightback from Japan’s Kei Nishikori to reach his second French Open semifinal. The number 14 seed had raced into a 6-1, 5-2 lead when a three-metre long piece of aluminium was blown off the electronic scoreboard on Philippe Chatrier and landed in the crowd. A male spectator required hospital treatment and the match was delayed by 35 minutes. Although Tsonga closed out the second set, the break seemed to favour Nishikori who came back to force a decider. The Frenchman was not to be denied and held his nerve to take the fifth set 6-3.
Tsonga will need to be prepared to go the distance against Wawrinka if he is to become the first Frenchman to reach the final at Roland Garros since Henri Leconte in 1988. The players have met twice before at the season’s second grand slam, with both matches going to a fifth set (one win each).
In the women’s draw, Ana Ivanovic reached her first grand slam semifinal since she won this event in 2008. Her 23 majors since that title had produced only two quarterfinals, but she comfortably beat Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina for the loss of only five games to reach the last four. Perhaps the winning mentality of her German World Cup winning boyfriend Bastian Schweinsteiger, present throughout her winning run in Paris, has rubbed off on the Serbian.
Ivanovic’s opponent in the semifinal will be Czech Lucie Safarova, who backed up Monday’s victory against defending champion Maria Sharapova with a 7-6, 6-3 win versus Spain’s number 21 seed Garbine Muguruza Blanco. Safarova had never previously made it past round four at Roland Garros, but this will be her second grand slam semifinal, after her run to the last four at Wimbledon in 2014.
Safarova knocked Ivanovic out of the French Open in the third round last year, but the Serbian beat the Czech in round two on her way to winning the title in 2008.