French Open 2015: Stan Wawrinka ends hoodoo as compatriot Roger Federer crashes out

Swiss records first victory over his countryman at a Grand Slam at fifth time of asking

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The Independent Online

It has been a difficult year for Stan Wawrinka, but the 30-year-old Swiss played what he described as his best match ever at the French Open to reach the last four here for the first time. Wawrinka’s 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 victory over Roger Federer, his friend and fellow countryman, sent the world No 9 into a semi-final meeting with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who thrilled the home crowd by beating Kei Nishikori 6-1, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3.

Wawrinka failed to defend his Australian Open title in January, suffered early defeats in the Masters Series tournaments in Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo and Rome and then found his private life the subject of media attention when he parted from his wife.

However, his tennis season started to perk up when he beat Rafael Nadal en route to the semi-finals in Rome last month and he has been in splendid form here. He struck the ball with awesome power against Federer as his one-handed backhand regularly forced the world No 2 on to the back foot. On a day when the windy conditions made it difficult for all players, Wawrinka rarely looked troubled.

Having ended an 11-match losing streak against Federer to win his first Masters Series title in Monte Carlo last year, Wawrinka has now recorded a first victory over his fellow countryman at a Grand Slam tournament at the fifth time of asking. He is through to the semi-finals here for the first time at the 11th attempt, a record matched only by Andres Gomez.

Federer-AFP.jpg
Federer crashes out of the French Open

For a while it seemed that the tournament might suffer acute embarrassment when Tsonga’s march towards the semi-finals was interrupted by a delay of more than half an hour after a sheet of metal fell from the scoreboard, causing minor injuries to three spectators. Tsonga was firmly in control at the time, leading by a set and 5-2.

The Frenchman dropped his serve on the resumption and although he went on to take the set his rhythm had clearly been disrupted. Nishikori took the next two sets but Tsonga responded superbly in the decider to match his feat of two years ago in reaching the semi-finals.

Ana Ivanovic, who had never gone beyond the fourth round here after winning the title in 2008, is through to the semi-finals after a crushing  6-3, 6-2 victory over Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina. The 27-year-old Serb has not played in the last four of a Grand Slam event anywhere since 2008.

In Thursday's semi-finals, Ivanovic will face the Czech Republic’s Lucie Safarova, a left-hander who followed up her victory over Maria Sharapova by beating Spain’s Garbine Muguruza 7-6, 6-3. Safarova played in her first Grand Slam semi-final at Wimbledon last summer.

The other semi will be contested by the winners of the two remaining quarter-finals. Serena Williams, the world No 1, faces Sara Errani, while Belgium’s Alison van Uytvanck will take on Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky in the tournament’s most unlikely quarter-final.

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