French Open: Stan Wawrinka overcomes Andy Murray to reach a fourth Grand Slam final in a five-set thriller

Third seed Stan Wawrinka booked his spot in his second French Open final in three years, after defeating last year's finalist, and the world number one Andy Murray, 6-7 (6), 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (3), 6-1 in four hours and 34 minutes.

French Open: Stan Wawrinka overcomes Andy Murray to reach a fourth Grand Slam final in a five-set thriller
Wawrinka was too good for Murray in the end and he could overtake Murray in terms of Slams on Sunday (Photo by Adam Pretty / Getty)
Stan Wawrinka
3 2
Andy Murray

The first men's singles semifinal of the 2017 French Open was a repeat of last year's semifinal between top seed Andy Murray and third seed Stan Wawrinka. The Brit overcame Wawrinka in four sets last year but on this occasion, the 2015 champion recovered from a set, and two sets to one down to defeat the world number one in five exciting sets of tennis. The third seed could finish the tournament as the new world number two for the first time in his career, should Dominic Thiem defeat Rafael Nadal in the other semifinal, or if Wawrinka wins the title on Sunday. Wawrinka will be competing in his second French Open final in three years, and it will be the first time he has reached two finals at the same Grand Slam.

Murray claims the first set in a lengthy rally

Both players held serve in their opening matches on Court Philippe Chatrier, and in the next two service games they had problems but managed to hold their serve with the match evenly poised at 2-2. The third seed's forehand and backhands were firing on all cylinders, and the scoreboard nudged ahead in Wawrinka's favor with a couple of backhand winners down the line.

The top seed stayed in touch with Wawrinka as he held serve to level the match at 3-3. The reigning US Open champion managed to hang onto his next service game and immediately applied pressure onto Murray.

The Brit committed multiple unforced errors, and he committed a double fault to hand Wawrinka a break point. He failed to convert it but a second one quickly followed with the Swiss number one coming out on top in a 20-shot rally and forehand winner down the line. The three-time Slam champion broke Murray's serve to take a 5-3 lead with a scintillating forehand winner down the line.

Wawrinka was unable to serve out, the opening set as he committed plenty of unforced errors. However, the top seed's defense was world class, and he broke back with the 2015 champion's forehand sailing long.

Throughout the duration of the opening set, both players held onto their serve to level the match at 6-6 and heading to an inevitable tiebreak. Both players had mini breaks in the early stages of the tiebreak, keeping it leveled at 2-2.

The third seed committed a forehand unforced error to give Murray a mini-break advantage. Wawrinka was bossing the rally but he committed another unforced error to allow Murray to consolidate the mini-break at 4-2.

Murray did well to win the first set (Photo by Clive Brunskill / Getty)
Murray did well to win the first set (Photo by Clive Brunskill / Getty)

The two three-time Grand Slam champions continued to trade mini breaks and a crucial point of the match at 4-4 in the tiebreak. Somehow, Murray returned Wawrinka's body serve, and the Brit found a forehand winner down the line to lead 5-4. Wawrinka got the first set point at 6-5 but he was unable to take it. Murray would win the next two points with a second serve out wide, and another unforced error from Wawrinka allowed Murray to take the opening set in over an hour. 

Wawrinka storms back to take the second set

Murray would have liked for the 32-year-old to have served first in the second set as he would have looked for an early break as Wawrinka's confidence would have shattered after losing the first set. Nonetheless, the world number one served first and held comfortably. Wawrinka held on to his serve, and the match continued to ebb and flow with no players facing break points at 2-2.

Moreover, the fifth game of the second set was pivotal as the reigning Wimbledon champion came out on top in a 24 shot rally, however, both players were committing unforced errors on their forehands. Wawrinka created the first break point chance in the second set with a ripping backhand winner down the line. Murray found some first serves, and he remained in front with a forehand winner.

The 2015 champion was strong mentally (Photo by Clive Brunskill / Getty)
The 2015 champion was strong mentally (Photo by Clive Brunskill / Getty)

The Swiss number one held serve quickly, and he made in-roads in Murray's next service game. Wawrinka broke serve to love with a backhand winner to lead 4-3. He consolidated the break, and he broke his fellow three-time Grand Slam champion's serve again with a return, a backhand winner down the line to level the match at one set apiece.

Murray fights back to take a crucial two sets to love lead

The reigning US Open champion held serve in the opening match to lead 1-0, and Wawrinka produced a ripping crosscourt backhand winner to create a break point, and he broke serve with Murray's forehand breaking down to lead 2-0. The Swiss number one was in his groove and he consolidated the break with a half-volley at the net to extend his seemingly unassailable lead to 3-0.

Nevertheless, he got on the scoreboard with a helping hand of Wawrinka, who committed unforced errors. The following game was crucial as Murray was threatening to break Wawrinka's serve with a cat and mouse action at the net with Murray coming out on top with a forehand winner down the line at 15-30. The Swiss number one got a game point with an ace out wide. He was unable to hold serve, as the top seed produced a good forehand shot, forcing the error from Wawrinka.

Once again, Murray's serve was under severe pressure as he quickly found himself at 15-40 down. He fended off both break points, and he got Wawrinka, moving side to side. The third seed broke Murray back with the fourth break point chance and led 4-2.

Murray couldn't close out the match in four sets (Photo by Adam Pretty / Getty)
Murray couldn't close out the match in four sets (Photo by Adam Pretty / Getty)

It was breaks galore in this set as Murray immediately broke Wawrinka back with a crushing backhand winner catching the edge of the line. Murray ended the run of breaks, with a comfortable service game.

The Swiss number one seemed to have a mental block as his backhand continued to break down, spewing more unforced errors, and trailed 15-40. Nonetheless, Murray committed two uncharacteristic backhand unforced errors, and Wawrinka got to game point with an ace. He held serve with a ripping backhand dragging the top seed out wide and finished off the point with a smash to lead 5-4.

Murray managed to serve to stay in the third set easily, and he quickly got to 0-40, Wawrinka staved off the first break point but he was unable to save the next as a sublime return from Murray, forced Wawrinka to commit an unforced error at the net.

The world number one gained a precious two sets to one lead with the third seed's backhand sailing into the net, and three hours of grueling tennis being played. 

Wawrinka storms back in the fourth set to send the match into a decider

The 2015 French Open champion continued to battle into this match and he held serve with authority with a ripping forehand winner to lead 1-0. He was looking to break the Brit's serve as Murray was trailing 0-30, however, Murray served well and he restored parity at 1-1 with a backhand winner down the line.

The match continued to flow with both players holding onto their service games with little trouble at 2-2. The top seed had success using a backhand drop shot, and he finished the point with a crosscourt forehand winner, to level the match at 3-3.

The 2015 French Open champion's serve was under threat as Murray was looking for a key breakthrough and got the game to deuce. Nonetheless, Wawrinka was cool as a cucumber as he held serve with a crushing forehand winner to lead 4-3.

Both players would hold serve to love in their next couple of service games, and Murray was once again saved by Wawrinka with a couple of wild backhand unforced errors. The third seed was threatening with a backhand return winner down the line but that didn't faze the top seed as he committed a forehand unforced error to level the match at 5-5.

Wawrinka will be a threat in the final on Sunday (Photo by Clive Brunskill / Getty)
Wawrinka will be a threat in the final on Sunday (Photo by Clive Brunskill / Getty)

The reigning US Open champion remained calm on serving as he held to love, putting the pressure straight back on Murray, who held serve to level the second set at 6-6 and play another tiebreak.

Wawrinka got off to a flying start in the tiebreak with a crushing forehand winner down the line, and Murray committing an unforced error to lead 2-0. However, the Brit pegged the tiebreak back at 2-2. The crucial point in the tiebreak was when Murray was on top in a rally but he played a tame drop shot which didn't even hit the net and found himself down a mini break at 4-2.

The Swiss number one was in his zone, and he claimed the fourth set with a return forehand winner down the line at 7-3, to take the match into a fifth and final set.
 

Wawrinka books his place in the French Open final with a stunning final set performance


The wind had seemingly sailed out of Murray as the 2015 champion broke the world number one's serve with a backhand unforced error in the net. Wawrinka consolidated the break with a good serve out to lead 2-0.

The defending finalist was fatiguing and Wawrinka showed no mercy with more ripping backhand winners down the line, and he got the double break, he was looking for as Murray committed a forehand unforced error out wide to lead 3-0.

There was a slight glimmer of hope for Murray as the Swiss number one fell 0-30 down. However, Wawrinka bailed himself out of trouble with good serving, and Murray continued to commit more errors. The finishing line was in sight as the three-time Grand Slam champion took a commanding 4-0 lead.

The two three Grand Slam champions played out one of the best matches of the year (Photo by Julian Finney / Getty)
The two three Grand Slam champions played out one of the best matches of the year (Photo by Julian Finney / Getty)

It was time for Murray to get on a flight from the airport back to London as the Swiss number one broke Murray's serve for the third time, leading 5-0.

However, the inevitable was slightly delayed as Murray retrieved one of the breaks back but ultimately it was in vain as the top seed broke the world number one, one more time with a backhand winner down the line, booking his place in his fourth Grand Slam final in four years, 6-7 (6), 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (3), 6-1.

By the numbers

Both players recorded similar numbers on their service games. Murray got 58 percent of his first serves in, and she won 66 percent of the points on his first serve. Moreover, Wawrinka got 60 percent of his first serves in and won 66 percent of the points on it. Wawrinka produced a stunning 87 winners, but 77 unforced errors whilst Murray produced 36 winners and 36 unforced errors.

Tennis