Wawrinka twice powers back from a set down, now meets Nadal in final
STAN WAWRINKA subjected Andy Murray to a barrage of body blows as he broke down the Briton’s formidable defences to reach the French Open final yesterday, twice coming from a set down to win a high- octane contest 6-7(6) 6-3 5-7 7-6(3) 6-1. The Swiss 2015 champion
hit a staggering 87 winners as he avenged last year’s semi- final defeat by the world number one to set up a final against nine-times champion Rafa Nadal.
Murray absorbed everything Wawrinka threw at him for most of the four hour and 34 minute contest but after winning a tense fourth set, Wawrinka steamed ahead in the decider as the Briton’s armour was finally pierced.
The third seed, at 32 the oldest man to reach the Roland Garros final since Niki Pilic finished runner-up in 1973, was long frustrated by Murray but never lost faith, despite seeing his opponent rally back from a break down in the first and third sets.
“There are two ways of seeing things and I chose to be positive, knowing that I was dominating,” said Wawrinka, who has won the three grand slam finals he has played.
Murray, who arrived in Paris on the back of a woeful claycourt season, said he could take a lot of positives from his run to the semis.
“I’m proud of the tournament I had. I did well considering. I was one tiebreak away from getting to the final,” said the Scot, who was runner-up to Novak Djokovic last year.
“When I came here I was really struggling. I turned my form around really well and ended up having a good tournament.”
Murray, who like Wawrinka owns three grand slam titles, made only one unforced error in the first seven games. He suffered a bit of a meltdown in the eighth, though, and Wawrinka pounced to steal his serve.
On his second opportunity, the Swiss punished Murray for his ill-timed rush to the net with a crosscourt forehand passing shot.
Murray broke straight back to eventually force a tiebreak that featured a couple of blazing exchanges that would be in the running for the ‘point of the tournament’.
After some fast- paced exchanges at the net, Wawrinka moved to set point with a backhand volley but dinked a routine backhand into the net as Murray levelled for 6-6.
On the following point, the Scot was forced to defend again and he turned the rally around with a jaw-dropping defensive lob before finishing the point with a forehand winner. The Swiss netted a forehand return as Murray bagged the opening set.
Wawrinka did not dwell on that setback and earned three break points in the seventh game of the second set, converting the first with a trademark backhand winner down the line.
Murray could not hold his following service either, and a perfectly-hit inside-out forehand gave Wawrinka the set.
A third consecutive break for Wawrinka earned him a 2-0 lead in the third set as Murray’s frustration grew. He regained his composure to dictate the points and break back, but Wawrinka further increased the pressure to break again for 4-2.
Murray was back again thanks to a whizzing backhand winner, and he pulled off a decisive break for 6-5, holding to take the lead in the match when Wawrinka netted a backhand.
There were no break points in the fourth set, but Wawrinka was too good in the tiebreak, taking it with a powerful forehand service return. The decider flashed by in just half an hour as Wawrinka levelled his grand slam win-loss record against Murray to 3-3 with yet another backhand winner.
● In the other semi fourth seed Rafa Nadal beat sixth seed Dominic Thiem 6-3 6-4 6-0. – Reuters