Stanislas Wawrinka knocked Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas out of the French Open with a thrilling victory in the longest match of this year’s tournament on Sunday, setting up a quarterfinal against compatriot Roger Federer.
A stunning winner from yards behind the baseline secured a 7-6 (8/6), 5-7, 6-4, 3-6, 8-6 fourth-round triumph for 2015 champion Wawrinka after five hours and nine minutes in sweltering heat on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
The 34-year-old has a 23-3 losing head-to-head record against close friend and fellow Swiss Federer, who saw off Argentinian world number 68 Leonardo Mayer 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 earlier in the day.
“It’s incredible, lots of emotions. Thanks to all the fans for staying and (the) support,” said Wawrinka after the third longest match in the last 20 years at the French Open.
“It’s for these kind of emotions that I live for after coming back from injury.”
It is the first time Wawrinka has reached a Grand Slam quarterfinal since losing to Rafael Nadal in the 2017 Roland Garros final, and completes an amazing turnaround from 12 months ago.
Last year, the three-time Grand Slam champion, following injury struggles, lost in the first round to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and dropped out of the world’s top 250.
The 20-year-old Tsitsipas missed out on the chance for a rematch with Federer, having beaten the 20-time major title winner in the Australian Open fourth round earlier this year.
Federer, the 2009 champion in Paris, is the oldest man to make the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament since Jimmy Connors at the 1991 US Open.
“It’s fabulous that I can spend this time in Paris,” said Federer who last played the tournament in 2015 when he lost in the quarterfinals to Wawrinka.
Federer will be playing in his 54th quarterfinal at a Slam, cementing his place on top of the all-time men’s list.
The Swiss maestro, who is yet to drop a set in the tournament, said he still remembers his last-eight loss to Wawrinka in Paris four years ago.
“I have a bad memory of it. Stan beat me in three sets with his terrible shorts!”
Reigning champion Nadal continued his bid for a record-extending 12th Roland Garros title by beating Grand Slam debutant Juan Ignacio Londero 6-2, 6-3, 6-3.
Nadal will face either Japanese seventh seed Kei Nishikori or home favourite Benoit Paire in his 38th Grand Slam quarterfinal, after their match was suspended due to darkness with Nishikori leading 6-2, 6-7 (8/10), 6-2.
The Spaniard, who turns 33 on Monday, has only been defeated twice in his French Open career and has a 10-2 record over Nishikori while he has yet to lose to Paire in four matches.