Wawrinka comes back to beat Murray, reach French Open final
Swiss ace becomes the oldest French Open finalist in 44 years as he overcomes top-seeded Briton in five gruelling sets and reach his fourth grand slam final
Battering the ball as if each shot would determine the match’s outcome, 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka came back to beat No. 1-ranked Andy Murray 6-7 (6-8), 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (7-3), 6-1 on Friday and become the oldest French Open finalist in 44 years.
The No 3-seeded Wawrinka, a 32-year-old from Switzerland, reached the fourth grand slam final of his career. He’s won the previous three: at Roland Garros two years ago, the US Open last September and the Australian Open in 2014.
A year ago at the French Open, Wawrinka lost to Murray in the semi-finals. This time, Wawrinka managed to wear down the seemingly tireless Murray, himself a three-time major champion. It was a triumph of offence over defence, as Wawrinka used his sublime one-handed backhand and hammer of a forehand to send Murray scrambling and sliding all over the red clay at Court Philippe Chatrier for a tad more than 4½ hours.
Over and over again, Murray would lean, or even lunge, and somehow manage to put his racquet strings on seemingly unreachable shots. Murray used plenty of drop shots and lobs, often to great effect. He deflected overheads. In sum, Murray generally made Wawrinka work so hard to get any shot past him.
But make no mistake: Wawrinka does not discourage easily. He kept absolutely walloping his strokes, resolute in his intention to attack and attack and attack.
Wawrinka ran away with the fifth set, taking 16 of the first 21 points and going up 5-0. He ended it, appropriately, with a backhand down the line, his 87th winner of the day, 51 more than Murray accumulated.
Murray was disappointed he couldn’t make it a closer fight in the fifth set.
“I didn’t keep the score tight enough to put pressure on him,” said Murray. “I wasn’t able to do that.”
When he faces nine-time champion Rafael Nadal of Spain or No 6 Dominic Thiem of Austria on Sunday, Wawrinka will be the oldest man in a French Open title match since Niki Pilic was 33 when he was the runner-up to Ilie Nastase in 1973.
Nadal and Thiem were scheduled to play in the second semifinal Saturday, after the stadium was cleared because separate tickets were sold for the day’s two marquee matches.