Gulbis sets up Djoko semis

Sharapova to face Bouchard in last 4

Ernests Gulbis of Latvia celebrates after beating Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic at the French Open Tennis Tournament at the Roland Garros Stadium in Paris Tuesday.

PARIS — Ernests Gulbis followed up his shock French Open defeat of Roger Federer with a straight sets dismissal of sixth seed Tomas Berdych Tuesday to reach his first Grand Slam semifinal.

The 25-year-old Latvian, better known for his colorful behavior and outspoken comments off the court than his achievements on it, stormed to a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 win.

The 18th seed will face second seed Novak Djokovic for a place in Sunday’s final.

Djokovic stayed firmly on course to win his first French Open title as he tamed big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic 7-5, 7-6 (7/4), 6-4.

The Serb world No. 2 is only missing the Roland Garros trophy to complete his Grand Slam career set.

The 27-year-old from Belgrade reached his sixth semi-final in Paris, the third best tally in the Open era, as he made it three wins out of three against Raonic, following Rome in May and a Davis Cup semifinal in 2013.

Tuesday’s win made Gulbis the second most successful match winner of 2013 — he now has 32 wins with just Rafael Nadal ahead of him on 38.

“This is very special, I am very happy to share it with you,” said Gulbis. “It was my best match of the tournament so far. Everything worked. Tomas was getting angry because I was hitting the lines all the time but, sorry, that’s part of the sport.”

Gulbis has a 1-4 record against Djokovic with whom he once trained when they were youngsters in Munch.

Their first meeting was in the French Open quarterfinals in 2008 when Djokovic won in straight sets, the pair’s only previous clash on clay.

“Gulbis is a very good player, he beat Roger (Federer) and now (Tomas) Berdych in three sets which is really impressive. He’s playing his best tennis so it’s going to be an important match for me,” Djokovic added.

Maria Sharapova, the 2012 champion, will face rising Canadian star Eugenie Bouchard in the semifinals Thursday.

The Russian former No. 1 and four-time Grand Slam winner came back from a set down to defeat Spaniard Garbine Muguruza 1-6, 7-5, 6-1.

But it was not before she was given an almighty fright by the 20-year-old Muguruza who had knocked out defending champion Serena Williams in the second round.

Bouchard was also involved in a dogfight as she became the first Canadian woman to reach the French Open semifinals. She trailed badly in all three sets before prevailing 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 7-5 over Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro in 2hr 22min.

The 20-year-old, is the only woman to reach the last four of both majors this season, after losing to Li Na in the Australian Open semifinals in straight sets. The only other Canadian to reach a Grand Slam semi-final was Carling Bassett at the US Open in 1984.

“I am just so happy right now, thanks to everyone, this is just completely unbelievable,” Bouchard told a raucous crowd, many with Canadian flags on court Suzanne Lenglen.

“I’m so happy to spend a few more days in Paris and look forward to the semifinal. It feels a bit like home here,” said the right hander in French, who won her first WTA tournament at Nuremberg on the eve of Roland Garros.

Bouchard and Sharapova have met twice with the Russian defeating the Canadian 6-2, 6-4 at the French Open last year and also winning 6-2, 6-0 at the Miami Masters the same season.

The remaining women’s quarter-finals take place Wednesday when fourth seed Simona Halep of Romania takes on 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia while 2012 finalist Sara Errani of Italy faces Germany’s 28th seed Andrea Petkovic. — Agencies





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