Austria's Dominic Thiem celebrates after winning his quarter final match against Serbia's Novak Djokovic. Picture: REUTERS
Austria's Dominic Thiem celebrates after winning his quarter final match against Serbia's Novak Djokovic. Picture: REUTERS

Paris — World No1 Andy Murray advanced to his fifth French Open semifinal on Wednesday, defeating Japanese 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.

Wawrinka became the oldest French Open semifinalist in 32 years when he brushed aside Marin Cilic 6-3 6-3 6-1.

Swiss third-seed Wawrinka, the 2015 title winner, has not lost a set on his way to a third successive semifinal in Paris.

The 32-year-old is the oldest man to make the last four at Roland Garros since Jimmy Connors in 1985.

The shock of the day was Djokovic’s exit at the hands of Dominic Thiem, who described his next challenge of facing Rafael Nadal as "the toughest match you can imagine".

The 23-year-old Austrian sent Djokovic tumbling to a 7-6 (7/5) 6-3 6-0 quarterfinal defeat for his first win over the world No2 in six meetings.

Now he has to get past nine-time champion Nadal if he is to take his place in a first Grand Slam final. Thiem trails Nadal 4-2 head-to-head.

However, he is the only player to have defeated the Spaniard on clay this year with a Rome quarterfinal success offsetting losses to Nadal in the finals in Barcelona and Madrid.

"But it’s great for me to be in the semifinals again, to defend that," added sixth-seed Thiem, who lost to Djokovic in the Paris semifinals a year ago.

"I think on Friday is coming the toughest opponent ever here in Roland Garros. Gonna be the fourth match against him in, like, five or six weeks.

"Not really any big secrets. He’s in his best shape again."

On Wednesday, Thiem avenged his loss to Djokovic in 2016 as well as his defeat in Rome in May where he was allowed just one game in a semifinal rout.

Thiem saved two set points in the 10th game of the opener and was always in control from that point onwards.

He allowed Djokovic just eight points in the third set — only the ninth 6-0 "bagel" the 12-time Major winner has  ever conceded.

Czech second-seed Karolina Pliskova reached the semifinals for the first time on Wednesday with a 7-6 (7/3) 6-4 win over home hope Caroline Garcia.

Pliskova will play 2014 Roland Garros runner-up Simona Halep, who saved a match point and rallied from 6-3 5-1 down to beat Elina Svitolina.

The Czech edged a marathon 77-minute first set against 28th seed Garcia in a tie-break, having failed to convert an earlier set point at 5-3.

The 25-year-old then broke Garcia as the Frenchwoman served to stay in the match to clinch just her second semifinal appearance at a Grand Slam event.

AFP

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