French Open semifinals: Murray-Wawrinka, Nadal-Thiem

Vincent De Villiers
Junho 10, 2017

There were five breaks of serve in the 12 games. There were full-blooded shots and awful errors exchanged.

Murray lost the opening set in each of his two opening rounds before recovering and said after his win over del Potro in the third round that he was beginning to finally find his feet on the clay.

That set was the first lost by Wawrinka all tournament, but he moved on quickly enough.

That could have and should have been the turning point of the match for the World No 1.

Back to his best level after being forced out of last year's French Open by a wrist injury that hampered him the whole season, Nadal has been impressive over the past two weeks.

But Wawrinka looked anything but old in the four-and-a-half-hour tussle which was ultimately decided by endurance.

Wawrinka pointed to his right temple, as he often does to celebrate success on key points, and was on his way to the final.

It was fitting in more ways than one - this was a battle of the mind, as much as the body, and Wawrinka held his nerve in the intense, nerve-wracking, long (the longest of the tournament so far) match. Wawrinka was using his booming winners to good effect, while Murray was employing his own brand of defensive tennis.

Murray was back again thanks to a whizzing backhand victor, and he pulled off a decisive break for 6-5, holding to take the lead in the match when Wawrinka netted a backhand.

Top-ranked Andy Murray has won the third set against Stan Wawrinka 7-5 to take the lead in the French Open semifinals.

The second set was completely different.

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Murray said: "When we played a year ago, it was a similar situation coming in". He converted six of 10 break points, while Thiem took only one of his eight opportunities to break serve.

The third was more like the first. Murray even became more offensive and started going for the shots.

Murray won the first set 7-6 (6).

He certainly did that against Murray, through their many lengthy and delightful exchanges and various ebbs and flows in which one player, then the other, appeared to be in control, only to cede it soon thereafter. Stunning exchanges from the back court, spectacular net points, epic backhands, court-covering rallies; the works.

None of the four men in the final has ever won a Grand Slam doubles title. It went to the tie-breaker and Wawrinka claimed with a cracking forehand down the line and from then on, he entered the zone.

Halep, who will play unseeded Jelena Ostapenko on Saturday on the same court, was smiling and looking relaxed as she watched the match between Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka. They've also won two Australian Open titles, including in January, and last year's U.S. Open, meaning they are bidding for a third major trophy in a row.

Given his resilience, it is hard to believe that Wawrinka is 32. This time, Wawrinka managed to wear down the seemingly tireless Murray, himself a three-time major champion.

But in the end, it was this aggressive approach by Wawrinka that gave him the edge. He capped it, appropriately, with a backhand down the line, his 87th victor of the day, 51 more than Murray. On the other hand, his opponent committed 77 unforced errors but hit 87 winners.

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 victor down the line. While the Scot looked drained out by the end of the fourth set, the Swiss didn't let the toll show until after the win.

Dominic Thiem then got the better of the Brit in Barcelona in the semifinal before Borna Coric added to his misery with a routine win at the Mutua Madrid Open.

Wawrinka, meanwhile, heads to his fourth Grand Slam final.

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