Andy Murray advances to French Open quarterfinals

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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Andy Murray reached the quarterfinals for the 20th time in his past 21 Grand Slam tournaments, handling the big serve of John Isner and beating the 15th-seeded American 7-6 (9), 6-4, 6-3 at the French Open on Sunday.

Murray, a two-time major champion who is seeded second in Paris, made it to the quarterfinals at Roland Garros for the sixth time. He has lost in the semifinals the past two years.

After needing five sets to get through each of his first two matches, Murray has now won in straight sets twice in a row.

In the opening tiebreaker Sunday, Isner held three set points -- at 6-5 on his serve, and at 7-6 and 9-8 on Murray's -- but failed to convert any of them.

One of the game's top returners, Murray managed to break the 6-foot-10 (2.08-meter) Isner twice. And Murray saved all five break points he faced -- two in the first set and three in the last.

The loss dropped Isner to 1-6 in fourth-round matches at Grand Slam matches. He was the last U.S. man in the French Open this year; no man from the country has made it to the quarterfinals in Paris since Andre Agassi in 2003.

Murray next faces France's sole survivor at the French Open, Richard Gasquet, who has reached the quarterfinals for the first time in 13 attempts.

His opponent, fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan, never looked at home in front of the partisan crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier. Spectators chanted, "Allez Richard!" between points and grew so excitable that Gasquet angrily yelled, "Shut your traps!" when noise during a point distracted him in the final set.

Seeded ninth, Gasquet won the rain-interrupted fourth-round match 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2. He lay on his back on the red clay after Nishikori netted a forehand on the last point.

Gasquet has previously stalled four times in the fourth round at Roland Garros.

"The public put me under pressure for the whole game, it did me loads of good," Gasquet said. "This is the biggest court in the world for a French player."

Stan Wawrinka was so in control during his 7-6 (5), 6-7 (7), 6-3, 6-2 win against Viktor Troicki for a place in the French Open quarterfinals that the defending champion even had time to hit shots with a ball boy.

While his Serb opponent, seeded No. 22, was getting treatment to his right leg in the third set, Wawrinka lent the lucky ball boy a racket and kept himself and the crowd amused by hitting with him.

But against a tricky Troicki, the third-seeded Swiss was strictly business in cold and humid conditions on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Wawrinka needed eight set points to overcome Troicki in the first set, failing to capitalize on the first four when Troicki was serving at 5-6 and then seeing three more go to waste in the tiebreaker before getting the set lead in 49 minutes.

In the second tiebreaker, it was Troicki who needed five set points to break down Wawrinka, who hit an attempted forehand lob long for the Serb to level.

Wawrinka caressed a backhand winner to break in the fourth game of the third set, during which Troicki got treatment on his leg and was given pills.

In the fourth set, Wawrinka staved off a break point with a sublime cross-court backhand and took a 5-1 lead. An ace brought up two match points for Wawrinka just shy of the three-hour mark and he converted the first when Troicki netted a backhand from the baseline.

Milos Raonic is out of the French Open, the eighth-seeded Canadian losing 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 to Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the fourth round in front of new coach John McEnroe.

The 55th-ranked player from Spain is into the quarterfinals of a major for the first time, having never made it past the second round of 18 previous Grand Slam tournaments.

Cool and very cloudy weather appeared to take some bite out of Raonic's serve. The quarterfinalist at Roland Garros in 2014 and semifinalist at this year's Australian Open also complained of an aching left hip in his previous match.

Ramos-Vinolas earned the victory with aggressive shot-making and some terrific defensive play. He broke Raonic five times and only lost serve once himself, saving 6 of 7 break points.

"I have no words to explain how I feel," he said. "It was four years in a row losing in the first round."

Raonic beckoned over the chair umpire in the last game to inspect a shot that gave Ramos-Vinolas two match points. She ruled it in, pointing out that the ball had nicked the line.

The Spaniard couldn't capitalize on either of those match points. But he made no mistake with his third match point, earned with an ace served out wide, sealing the win in 2 hours, 20 minutes with a smash.

He celebrated by firing a spare ball into the air in delight.