Wawrinka twice pow­ers back from a set down, now meets Nadal in fi­nal

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

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

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