ROTTERDAM, Netherlands (AFP) – Stan Wawrinka was untouchable on serve in the opening set as the Swiss powered into the semi-finals of the ATP Rotterdam World Tennis event on Friday with a 7-6 (7/3), 6-3 win over Gilles Muller.
Fourth seed Wawrinka will wait for an opponent from Canadian second seed Milos Raonic and Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky.
Wawrinka started out on fire in the opening set as he committed one error and fired at 100 percent on first serves on his way to defeating Muller for the second time this season. Wawrinka matched Muller on serve, with nine apiece; he finished with 21 winners.
“It was a really close first set, but it was a very good match for me,” said Wawrinka, who last played here in 2005. “I’m getting better and better with each match.
“There was nothing really wrong with my game, I think I did everything pretty well. I’m very pleased with how it went. Gilles has such a big serve that there is little chance to break him.
“But I have to keep up this level for the semi-finals, nothing will be easy.”
At the top of the draw, Frenchman Gilles Simon ended a 12-match losing streak to Andy Murray as he dumped the top seed out in the quarter-finals.
The persistent challenger stood 1-12 against the two-time Grand Slam winner and unleashed one of his best performances to stage the 6-4, 6-2 upset.
Simon will take a 6-3 record into his semi-final with defending champion Tomas Berdych, who scraped his knuckles during a second-set fall on court on the way to a defeat of Gael Monfils 6-1, 6-4.
Murray, who went down double breaks at the start of each set, confessed to getting off to a poor start; the recent Australian Open finalist admitting he never found the rhythm to recover.
“I struggled with most shots and I had a poor start,” said the world number four who won the Dutch title in 2009.
Berdych has now reached his third ATP semi-final of the season after posting his fourth win from five meetings with quirky French player Monfils, a former world number seven now ranked 21st.
Berdych landed on his hand in the third game of the second set and had the trainer out to take a look before playing on without incident.
The Czech fired seven aces among his 32 winners during the 71-minute match, breaking on three of nine occasions and never facing a break point.
Monfils, whose enthusiastic game can go on and off the boil in an instant, saved a match point in the penultimate game before Berdych set up two more match-winners with a forehand cross-court.