World number two Andy Murray and defending champion Stan Wawrinka edged closer to a French Open semi-final duel when they reached the last-eight yesterday.
Murray made the quarter-finals for the sixth time with a 7-6 (9), 6-4, 6-3 win over John Isner of the United States.
The 29-year-old, a three-time semi-finalist, will face Richard Gasquet, the last French player standing, in the last-eight. Gasquet reached the French Open quarter-finals for the first time with a 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 win over fifth seed Kei Nishikori of Japan.
Wawrinka, the third seed, saw off Serbia’s Viktor Troicki 7-6 (5), 6-7 (7), 6-3, 6-2 for his 11th straight win in the year’s second Grand Slam.
He will next face a Spanish left-hander who isn’t named. Rafael Nadal after unheralded Albert Ramos-Vinolas reached his first Grand Slam last-eight with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 defeat of Canadian eighth seed Milos Raonic.
Murray will be playing in his 20th quarter-final at the last 21 majors after braving an Isner storm in the first set where he faced down three set points in the tie-breaker.
“It was a very important tie-break to win. I got lucky on his first set point when I guessed right on a short forehand,” said the Scot.
Isner was bidding to become the first American man in the last-eight in Paris since Andre Agassi in 2003.
Having not allowed Murray a single break point, the 31-year-old squandered the three set points before the British star pounced to pocket the opener.
Rain forced the pair off Suzanne Lenglen court for an hour with Murray 2-1 ahead in the second set before Isner was broken for the first time in the 10th game.
Murray broke for 3-1 in the third before Isner clung on saving two more break points in the sixth game.
But the world number two wrapped up victory — and his sixth win in six clashes with the big American — with his ninth ace of the tie.
Isner, meanwhile, was undone by Murray’s superior returning which contributed to his 57 unforced errors.
Wawrinka continued his dominance over Troicki with a fifth win in five meetings as the Serb’s challenge fizzled out following a right thigh injury at 4-1 down in the third set.
“It was far from easy with tough conditions — heavy and cold, but I am happy to have come through it,” 31-year-old Wawrinka said. “It was a big battle, but I was able to stay calm and win this match.”
Ramos-Vinolas, 28, had never got beyond the second round of any major before this Roland Garros and had failed to win a match at the tournament since 2011.
But the world number 55, who is only his country’s ninth best player, ensured a left-hander from Spain would be in the last-eight after the injury-enforced withdrawal of nine-time champion Nadal.
“I had lost four times in a row here so I am very happy,” said the shock winner who had also won just four matches in his entire career at the majors before coming to Paris.
“I played a great match. I think the cloudy conditions helped me as they made the court slower.”
He trails Wawrinka 6-0 in career meetings including last week in Geneva where he won just two games.
“Wawrinka is the titleholder. He’s hugely powerful. Last week I played him, and he won very easily,” said Ramos-Vinolas whose only other previous win over a top 10 player was against Roger Federer in Shanghai in 2015.
“He didn’t leave any opportunity for me to play my tennis. But this is another tournament.”
Raonic had been bothered by a left hip injury in the last round and the 25-year-old was obviously under-powered on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
Hingis-Mirza lose chance to complete ‘Santina Slam’
Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza lost their cool as their hopes of holding all four grand slam titles were dashed following a 6-3 6-2 defeat by Czech duo Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova in the third round of the French Open yesterday.
The Indo-Swiss team dubbed “Santina” were hoping to win four majors in a row after following up last year’s Wimbledon and US Open triumphs with victory in January’s Australian Open.
But the top seeds appeared all at sea on a gloomy day at Roland Garros and their bid to complete the ‘Santina Slam’ ended after the Czechs blasted a service return winner to break Hingis in the final game.
Hingis and Mirza were left fuming at the umpire after a call went against them as they trailed 4-1 in the second set. Mirza tossed the ball in anger but the duo failed to win the argument, or the match, leaving Krejcikova and Siniakova to celebrate a memorable victory.
It proved to be a bad day for the big names in doubles as Venus and Serena Williams, who were the last women’s team to hold all four majors in 2010, also perished in the third round, beaten 6-3 6-3 by the Dutch-Swedish pairing of Kiki Bertens and Johanna Larsson.
Men (Round 4): Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) bt 8-Milos Raonic (CAN) 6-2, 6-4, 6-4; 3-Stan Wawrinka (SUI) bt 22-Viktor Troicki (SRB) 7-6 (5), 6-7 (7), 6-3, 6-2; 2-Andy Murray (GBR) bt 15-John Isner (USA) 7-6 (9), 6-4, 6-3; 9-Richard Gasquet (FRA) bt 5-Kei Nishikori (JPN) 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2
Women (Round 4): 4-Garbine Muguruza (ESP) bt 13-Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 6-3, 6-4; Shelby Rogers (USA) bt 25-Irina Begu (ROM) 6-3, 6-4
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