French Open 2015: Ivanovic, Safarova reach semis


Roger Federer had admitted to wondering what it would be like to win Roland-Garros this year. He also knew, before his quarter-final against his good friend Stan Wawrinka, that he could go home.

Unfortunately for the 17-time Grand Slam champion, a second Roland Garros title to add to his 2009 triumph may never materialize.

Federer wasn’t considered one of two – or even three – favorites heading into the second major of the season, but a favorable draw saw the 33-year-old land in the opposite half of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.

Yet instead of Federer getting the chance to face one of his ‘Big Four’ comrades, it was fellow Swiss Wawrinka who took a step closer to Sunday’s men’s final.

Calling his best match on clay in a grand slam, Wawrinka overpowered Federer on Tuesday, winning 6-4 6-3 7-6 (7-4) to set up a semi-final clash with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Beating Federer for the first time in five attempts at a major tournament, last year’s Australian Open champion had 43 winners and just 28 unforced errors in extremely windy conditions.

And for the first time in 13 years, Federer failed to break serve in a Grand Slam match.

The French can still dream of a first men’s winner at Roland Garros since 1983 after Tsonga beat US Open runner-up Kei Nishikori 6-1 6-4 4-6 3-6 6-3.

Earlier on Tuesday, experience won out over youth in both women’s quarter-finals. Ana Ivanovic and Lucie Safarova reached the semifinals with straight-set wins over Elina Svitolina and Garbine Muguruza, respectively.

But people weren’t just talking about tennis on Day 10 of the tournament.

Just over a week after a fan ran onto the pitch and tried to take a selfie with Federer in a worrying security breach, the match between Tsonga and Nishikori had to be interrupted for about half an hour when A horizontal sheet detached from a scoreboard in the heights of the Philippe-Chatrier stadium and landed on the spectators.

The occupants of the affected seats were evacuated and the area was cordoned off. Fans then returned to the section.

“A sheet metal fell from the dashboard onto members of the public, three of whom were slightly injured,” organizers said in a statement. “The area was secure… the spectators took their places in the stands.”

Later, tournament director Gilbert Ysern said only one fan was injured.

He added that an investigation was ongoing.

“I don’t have specific details to share with you,” Ysern told reporters. “We think it of course has something to do with the wind. The wind wasn’t that strong so it shouldn’t have happened, clearly.

Federer, on the Suzanne-Lenglen court, said he tried everything to destabilize Wawrinka. It did not work.

Wawrinka saved a break point at 5-4 in the first with a big strike and once he got the opener, Federer’s task became much more difficult.

Not even chants of “Roger, Roger” at 5-5 in the third period could unsettle the enigmatic Wawrinka, who went a mediocre 6-4 on the European clay swing.

The tension that surfaced when the pair met in the World Tour final last November was absent and unlike in London – when Wawrinka lost four match points – a comeback was not in the cards for Federer.

“I tried a lot of things,” Federer told reporters. “One of them was trying to get (the ball) high. Another was trying to shorten it. Another was trying to hit through the wind. Obviously I wasn’t going to leave Roland-Garros without trying everything there -down.

“Stan hung on the big points and really didn’t give me much, so it was a credit to him for playing so well.”

Federer’s coach Stefan Edberg says his charge was not helped by Suzanne Lenglen’s conditions.

“Stan played a great game, no doubt about it,” Edberg told “Roger may not have reached his full level today.

“The thing is, it’s two different courts, central and Lenglen. (Lenglen) is a much slower pitch. It’s different to play there.

Tsonga will certainly need no motivation when he takes on Wawrinka – the Swiss crushed the 14th seed in the Davis Cup final on clay in Lille, France in late November. Their two meetings at Roland-Garros have gone to five sets.

Tsonga crossed the finish line with the help of the crowd on Tuesday and repaid them by using his shoes to write on the clay, “Roland je t’aime”, which translates to “Roland, I love you “. He then dropped, back first, onto the clay, arms outstretched.

Until stopped at 5-2 in the second set, Tsonga – who has missed most of the season through injury – was well in control. The extended break, however, changed things for Nishikori and, conversely, complicated things for Tsonga.

“He came back to the field with a different goal and he played a lot better,” Tsonga told reporters. “It gave me a lot of trouble to find a solution. Then it was a fifth set. But then I served pretty well and was really solid.

Tsonga will be hoping his semi-final performance on Friday will be better than when he reached the same stage in 2013. Flat, he was comfortably dispatched by David Ferrer.

Ivanovic improved to 7-0 against 20-year-old Svitolina with a 6-3 6-2 victory, spoiling the Ukrainian’s exit in her first Grand Slam quarter-final.

Ivanovic, a former world No. 1 watched by German soccer star boyfriend Bastian Schweinsteiger, will advance to the semi-finals of a major for the first time since 2008, when she won the title in Paris.

Safarova progressed by beating Muguruza, 21, 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 to win a second Grand Slam semi-final after Wimbledon last year.

The Czech, seeded 13th, followed up her shock victory over defending champion Maria Sharapova in the fourth round. She will soon head for the top 10.

Wednesday’s action is highlighted by nine-time champion Nadal’s quarter-final with world No. 1 Djokovic.

Expect more drama then.

Read: Wilander chooses Djokovic for the title


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