PARIS, June 3 – Chile's Fernando Gonzalez blew away British third seed Andy Murray here on Tuesday to book a French Open semi-final date with Swedish giant-killer Robin Soderling, conqueror of Rafael Nadal.
Both Gonzalez and Soderling, who won 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 against Russian 10th seed Nikolay Davydenko, will be contesting their first Roland Garros semi-final, while Soderling had never before advanced beyond the third round at a major.
Gonzalez, the 12th seed, tasted Grand Slam heartache when he lost to Roger Federer in the final of the 2007 Australian Open.
But he looked in excellent form against Murray, who broke into the world top three after a superb start to 2009 that saw him win three tournaments.
"His forehand is the biggest in tennis," Murray said of Gonzalez, who won 6-3, 3-6, 6-0, 6-4.
"If you look at some of the shots he’s hit, he’s hitting forehands from like a metre wide of the tramline on some points and hitting winners off them.
"Even if you try to hit a ball to his backhand, he makes his mind up that he wants to hit a forehand and he runs around it and spanks a winner. You can’t do a whole lot with it."
Gonzalez admitted that he had tried to dominate with his forehand and said it was a shot that came to him naturally.
"I’ve been hitting the same for years and years. I always try to attack, I have no fear and I just go for it.
"I know if I have to win important matches I’ll do it on that side."
Gonzalez, 28, took the first set after a crashing forehand down the line but Murray, the third seed, appeared to have figured out how to counter his hard-hitting opponent when he won the second set to level the match.
The third set, though, was a disaster for the Scot, who was guilty of a string of loose shots as Gonzalez conspired to break him three times in succession.
Murray, a losing finalist at last year’s US Open in his first Grand Slam final, sought to rouse himself in the early stages of the fourth set and looked set to mount a stirring comeback when Gonzalez allowed himself to be broken while serving for the match at 5-3 up.
It proved a temporary reprieve, though, as Murray handed Gonzalez three match points with a netted drop shot before seeing a forehand clip the top of the net and bounce back on his side to confirm his exit from the competition.
Soderling, the 23rd seed, followed up his defeat of four-time champion Rafael Nadal on Sunday with a surprisingly routine straight sets victory over Davydenko.
"I didn’t have a very easy draw," said the 24-year-old Soderling, who also overcame Spanish 14th seed David Ferrer in the third round.
"I’ve played three good claycourt players and I’ve played three very good matches, so my confidence is getting better and better."
Davydenko, playing on his 28th birthday, had no answer to Soderling’s strafing groundstrokes and pinpoint returning, with the Swede wrapping up the match in 1hr 41min.
"He played faster. I felt like he was always hitting balls right on the line," said Davydenko, the world number 11.
"I have no chance. I try to run, but I’m not Nadal."
After tamely conceding the first set, Davydenko stepped up his game at the start of the second but Soderling waited for his opportunity before breaking in game seven when the Russian found the net with a forehand.
oderling continued to find the corners of the court in a very one-sided third set as he took another step towards becoming the first Swedish champion at Roland Garros since Mats Wilander in 1988.