Stan Wawrinka ousts Roger Federer, reaches French semis

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

PARIS -- "Stan The Man" lived up to his billing Tuesday, beating 17-time Grand Slam championRoger Federerinstraight sets to advance to the semifinals of the French Open.

Stan Wawrinka, who has that slogan embossed on the handle of his rackets, beat his Swiss Davis Cup teammate 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (4) to reach the semifinal of a Grand Slam event for the fourth time in his career.

Wawrinka was too formidable on a windy afternoon, his powerful groundstrokes cutting through gusts that topped 30 mph on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

"I played my best match in a Grand Slam tournament," the eighth-seeded Wawrinka said, quite a statement considering he won the championship at the 2014 Australian Open, "and my best match on clay."

Said Federer:"I made 30-something errors today. He, maybe, made one."

Waiting for Wawrinka in the semifinals will be Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who thrilled the partisan crowd by outlasting No. 5 Kei Nishikoriin a five-set thriller, 6-1, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3.

It was a rare win for Wawrinka against his friend -- only his third in 19 career matches between the two. Federer, the No. 2-ranked player in the world, had been 4-0 against Wawrinka in Grand Slam events.

Wawrinka also managed to break Federer's serve three times while saving all four break points he faced -- the first time since 2002 US Open that Federer was unable to break his opponent's serve in a Grand Slam event.

Wawrinka is making his 11th appearance at Roland Garros, equaling the most in the professional era -- which began in 1968 -- for a man getting to his first semifinal in Paris.

"We [knew] he can do this," Federer said. "It's just nice for him now, even talking for him, to string it together on a big occasion like this at the French, where I always thought he'd have his best chance to do well."

During the eight French Opens from 2005 to 2012, Federer reached at least the semifinals seven times, including winning the 2009 championship to complete a career Grand Slam. But this is now the third year in a row that Federer has exited Roland Garros in the quarterfinals or earlier.

Federer, who lacked the sort of grace and precision that the world has come to expect as he appeared in a 62nd consecutive major, received treatment on his right hand from a trainer during the second set.

For years and years a dominant and confident force in tennis, Federer slumped in his changeover chair, head bowed, after falling behind two sets to none. During one point, he stumbled to the net, dropped his racket and fell to his knees on the red clay.

Late in the third set, Federer missed a backhand that got caught in the wind and let out a guttural "Aaaaah!" He never managed to consistently find the range on his shots, and Wawrinka put together a 43-28 edge in winners.

"I tried many things. One of them was trying to put [the ball] up high. Another one was trying to chip it shorter. Another one was trying to hit through the wind," Federer said. "Obviously I was not going to leave the French Open without having tried everything out there."

Tsonga's match on Court Philippe Chatrier was interrupted for about 40 minutes after a piece of metal hit a barrier and a piece of equipment on its way down, slowing its fall before tumbling onto packed rows of spectators. French Open organizers said none of the injuries was serious.

When he finally had defeated Nishikori, France's Tsonga knelt on the court, then rose and used the sole of his right shoe to write "Roland, je t'aime" -- "I love you, Roland" -- in the clay.

Tsonga then get down on his back, with arms and legs spread apart, as 15,000 or so of his closest friends stood and roared their approval for their man's second trip to the semifinals at Roland Garros.

"You supported me," Tsonga told the crowd during his postmatch interview. "I will never forget it."

He's a burly guy who can rip the ball as hard as just about anyone on tour, and he and Wawrinka have evenly split six career meetings.

Nishikori was attempting to become the first Japanese man to reach the French Open semifinals since Jiri Satoh in 1933.

The quarterfinals on the other half of the men's draw are Wednesday, with a real blockbuster looming: No. 1 Novak Djokovic against nine-time champion Rafael Nadal. No. 3 Andy Murray plays No. 7 David Ferrer in the other quarterfinal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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