PA Wire/PA Images Andy Murray celebrates his four-set win.
it's a wrap
Murray recovers from slow start to advance to his fifth French Open semi-final
He’ll play Stan Wawrinka on Friday for a place in the decider.

WORLD NUMBER ONE Andy Murray advanced to his fifth French Open semi-final today, defeating Japanese eighth seed Kei Nishikori 2-6 6-1 7-6 (7/0) 6-1.

Murray, who was runner-up to Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros last year, will meet 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka for a spot in Sunday’s final.

Nishikori out-battled Murray in a five-set classic at last year’s US Open and looked capable of a repeat success as he rolled through the opening set.

But Murray responded by taking the second set with ease and stormed through a third-set tie-break before finishing off a tiring Nishikori to seal a fourth successive semi-final appearance in Paris.

“I needed to start putting more pace on my shots, he was dictating all the points in the first set.

“It was windy, so the timing was difficult, but once I was able to get into a rhythm and keep him away from the baseline, that made the difference,” said Murray.

The Scot set up a semi-final rematch with third seed Wawrinka after beating the Swiss in four sets at the same stage of the tournament a year ago.

“He’s played fantastic this tournament so far,” Murray said of the 32-year-old, the oldest Roland Garros semi-finalist since Jimmy Connors in 1985.

“Last year I had to play one of my best matches on clay to beat him. I know it will be tough but I’ll fight as hard as I can.

“It hasn’t always been easy for me here, but these last few years have been great.”

Christophe Ena Stan Wawrinka. Christophe Ena

Earlier, Wawrinka breezed into the semi-finals for the third successive year with an emphatic straight-sets victory over Marin Cilic — 6-3 6-3 6-1 in only one hour and 40 minutes.

Wawrinka has now won his last eight matches against the seventh seed from Croatia, who was unable to live with the three-time Grand Slam singles champion on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

The elegant Swiss has slipped under the radar somewhat in Paris, but was imperious as he sailed through 12 months after losing to Murray in the last four.

Elsewhere, Dominic Thiem is braced for the “toughest match you can imagine” against Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals of the French Open after ending Novak Djokovic’s reign today.

Thiem was beaten by Djokovic in his only other run to the last four of a Grand Slam last year and was hammered by him in Rome last month, but gained revenge with a 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 6-0 victory on Court Suzanne Lenglen 12 months later.

The sixth seed from Austria had never beaten the defending champion in five attempts, but put that right to ensure he will face tournament favourite Nadal on Friday.

Thiem is the only player to beat the history-chasing Spaniard on clay this year, in the Italian capital before losing to Djokovic, but knows he will need to produce something special to repeat that feat in Paris.

“First of all, it’s great for me to be in the semi-finals again.” said the 23-year-old. “And of course, I think on Friday I am facing the toughest opponent ever here in Roland Garros.

“It’s going to be the fourth match against him in, like, five or six weeks. There will not really be big secrets, he’s in his best again shape. So it’s going to be the toughest match what you can imagine.”

Tennis: French Open SIPA USA / PA Images Simona Halep. SIPA USA / PA Images / PA Images

In the women’s draw, Simona Halep mounted a stunning comeback to defeat Elina Svitolina and reach the French Open semi-finals after facing match point.

The Romanian came from a set and double break down to twice prevent Svitolina serving out for the match in a thrilling 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-0 victory.

With the last-eight line-up at Roland Garros having guaranteed a maiden Grand Slam winner, Halep is considered the clear favourite to triumph in Paris.

But fifth seed Svitolina was the more impressive player for a long while on Court Suzanne Lenglen, out-manoeuvring and out-thinking her rival until finally she stirred.

She will face Czech Karolina Pliskova tomorrow, with the world number three having beaten home hope Caroline Garcia.

The second and third seeds play the later final-four clash tomorrow afternoon, following the tie between Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko and Swiss 30th seed Timea Bacsinszky.

(C) AFP 2017

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