Paris: Andy Murray and defending champion Stan Wawrinka set up a mouthwatering French Open semi-final duel Wednesday as Novak Djokovic became the first player to smash the $100 million prize money barrier.
Second seed Murray reached the semi-finals in Paris for a fourth time by battling back to defeat the last home hope Richard Gasquet 5-7, 7-6 (7/3), 6-0, 6-2.
Wawrinka, the 31-year-old third seed, became the oldest man since 1985 to reach the semi-finals with a 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (9/7) win over Spain`s Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
Gasquet, bidding to end France`s 33-year-wait for a French champion, reeled off five straight games to recover from 5-2 down and claim the opening set in front of a raucous Philippe Chatrier Court crowd.
But former US Open and Wimbledon champion Murray won a second set tie-break before claiming 12 of the next 14 games.
Murray leads his head-to-head 8-7 with Wawrinka but the Swiss star has won their last three meetings as well as their only two matches on clay.
"Stan`s played great tennis here the past couple years. It`s going to be extremely tough, hopefully I can play my best tennis and try and reach my first final here," said Murray after a third win in Paris over Gasquet.
Wawrinka is the oldest semi-finalist in Paris since 32-year-old Jimmy Connors in 1985.
He was in complete control against world number 55 Ramos-Vinolas, playing in his first quarter-finals at the majors, firing an impressive 49 winners.
"Overall, I played a good match with an incredible level in the first two sets," said Wawrinka.
"I had to dig deep to finish the match. To win in three sets, it`s ideal."
Wawrinka, who beat Djokovic in last year`s final, will be playing in only his second Roland Garros semi-final.
Top seed Djokovic reached the quarter-finals for the 10th time by defeating 14th seeded Roberto Bautista Agut 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-5.
It was a tie which started the previous afternoon after rain disruptions had washed out Monday and allowed just two hours of play Tuesday.
The 29-year-old Serb will on Thursday take on Czech seventh seed Tomas Berdych, who beat Spanish 11th seed David Ferrer 6-3, 7-5, 6-3.Djokovic has a 23-2 career stranglehold on Berdych who will be playing in his third Roland Garros quarter-final.
It will be the top seed`s 28th consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final and 36th in all.
Djokovic also crossed the $100 million prize money barrier on Wednesday.
He started the tournament with $99,673,404 and the 294,000 euros ($328,303) he earned by beating Bautista Agut took him past the landmark figure.
Djokovic, seeking a first French Open title to complete a career Grand Slam, was 4-1 ahead of Bautista Agut in the third set Tuesday when play was halted.
But the Serb quickly wrapped up the next two games Wednesday and despite falling a break down to trail 2-4 in the fourth, he stormed back to claim victory on a second match point.
"With my coaching team, we had some tough talks on Tuesday night," said Djokovic, who had struggled in the heavy conditions when he had uncharacteristically dropped serve five times.
"But I came back with more intensity even though it was a tough mental and physical battle."
Austria`s Dominic Thiem advanced to his maiden Grand Slam quarter-final with a 6-2, 6-7 (2/7), 6-1, 6-4 win over Spain`s Marcel Granollers.
Granollers had made the last 16 without hitting a ball when nine-time champion Rafael Nadal withdrew with a wrist injury last week.
Rain halted play at one set apiece on Tuesday, but 13th seed Thiem quickly found his groove on Wednesday to race through the third set before nailing down a place in the last eight.
The 22-year-old will next meet Belgian 12th seed David Goffin who saw off Latvia`s Ernests Gulbis 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 in another match held over from Tuesday.
"We practise a lot together and he`s also a very nice guy," said Thiem, who trails Goffin 4-2 including a loss at the Australian Open this year.
Goffin is only the second Belgian man to reach the last eight in Paris.
In the women's section, Garbine Muguruza and Samantha Stosur set up a semi-final clash, while defending champion Serena Williams brushed aside concerns about a busy playing schedule in Paris.
Muguruza, last year`s Wimbledon runner-up, had reached the quarter-finals on her last two visits to Roland Garros but went a step further after ending the surprise run of American Shelby Rogers 7-5, 6-3.
The 22-year-old will face Stosur for a place in the final after the Australian 21st seed, runner-up six years ago, overcame Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria 6-4, 7-6 (8/6).
"I respect all the players, and especially all the players who have made deep runs in the tournament. I respect them. I`m not frightened. I`m not scared. I`m business, of course, but I wish I could reach a final. Why not?" said Muguruza, who lost to Stosur in three sets in Madrid in their only previous meeting two years ago.
Former US Open champion Stosur matched her best run at a Grand Slam since reaching the last four in Paris in 2012.
Earlier, Serena Williams powered into the last eight for the 10th time after pulverising 18th seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine 6-1, 6-1 in just over an hour on Court Philippe Chatrier.
But the world number one, who next plays Kazakhstan`s Yulia Putintseva, faces the challenge of playing four matches in four days in her pursuit of a record-equalling 22nd Open era Grand Slam title.
"Four in a row? I think for us...when we play regular tournaments you play four, five matches in a row. It`s what happens," said Williams.
"In Rome I played four in a row? Five? I don`t know. But, you know, in Miami and Indian Wells you just play every day. It`s something you just get used to. It`s totally fine I think for me and for everyone."Swiss eighth seed Timea Bacsinszky dumped out Venus Williams 6-2, 6-4 to rule out the prospect of the two American siblings meeting in the semi-finals.
Bacsinszky, who reached the semi-finals in Paris a year ago, reeled off nine of 10 games after trailing 0-2 in the first set to lay the foundation for her victory.
"If I could play here every day of my life, I would do it," said Bacsinszky, who will meet unseeded Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens next.
"Being in a quarter-final in a slam is like every player`s dream. Like some have achieved it way more times than others, but for me it`s my third.
"I still sometimes cannot believe it, especially if you have a great win over such a good player."
Bertens reached her first Grand Slam quarter-final after defeating American 15th seed Madison Keys 7-6 (7/4), 6-3.
The world number 58, conqueror of Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber in the first round, has now won 11 straight matches after arriving in Paris fresh from lifting the Nuremberg clay-court title as a qualifier.
Putintseva, 21, the youngest player left in the draw, extended her best run at a major with a 7-5, 7-5 victory over Spanish 12th seed Carla Suarez Navarro.
"I think I have been always playing well. It`s just in last few years I had some troubles with like sometimes fitness, sometimes my game that I have to change a little bit in the more aggressive way.
"But I think it`s just the moment came and now I`m playing better in this tournament," said Putintseva, the world number 60, who was beaten in straight sets by Serena at Indian Wells this year.
"She`s a legend. I`m just gonna go there and show my game, show my best, and we`ll see what`s going to happen.
"Like I have nothing to lose obviously against her. Yeah, I`m just gonna go and play. What else can I do?"