Friday, 3 June 2016

TENNIS:- Andy Murray beats defending champion Stan Wawrinka in four sets to reach his first French Open final

After a long and winding road to the final, full of rain delays and scares, Andy Murray fought his way through to his first French Open final.
The 29-year-old Scot will face Novak Djokovic after beating defending champion Stan Wawrinka with a hugely composed display, 6-4 6-2 4-6 6-2 in two hours and 35 minutes. Rarely if ever has he played better on the brown dirt, putting on a masterclass in defusing the champion's power to make his tenth Grand Slam final in all.
If he can repeat the result of the Italian Open final three weeks ago then he will emulate Fred Perry in 1935 by lifting the Coupe Des Mousquetaires. He will need to produce this kind of all round performance, because yet again the Serb is lifting it when it matters. 
Andy Murray has reached his first ever French Open final after beating defending champion Stan Wawrinka

Andy Murray has reached his first ever French Open final after beating defending champion Stan Wawrinka
The British No 1 won the first two sets 6-4 and 6-2 to reach the third set in a very comfortable position

The British No 1 won the first two sets 6-4 and 6-2 to reach the third set in a very comfortable position
Wawrinka won the tournament in 2015 but struggled to keep up with Murray's recent good form on clay

Wawrinka won the tournament in 2015 but struggled to keep up with Murray's recent good form on clay

Djokovic gave 22 year-old Dominic Thiem a schooling in the end, beating him 6-2 6-1 6-4 before an animated crowd who had come in on the late €20 tickets available due to the schedule change.
'I knew today if I wanted to win I was going to have to play one of my best clay court matches,' said an emotional Murray afterwards. 'He was playing better every match. I'm looking forward to the final. I'm extremely proud as I never expected to reach the final here, I've always struggled on the clay.'
He will be the first British male finalist since Bunny Austin in 1937. 
Former Manchester United star Eric Cantona watched on as Murray reached yet another final on Friday

Former Manchester United star Eric Cantona watched on as Murray reached yet another final on Friday
The match was Murray's 19th semi-final at a Grand Slam, the same total as John McEnroe and Stefan Edberg

The match was Murray's 19th semi-final at a Grand Slam, the same total as John McEnroe and Stefan Edberg

One streak was going to go as these two players came into the match. Murray had not beaten a top four player in a Grand Slam since winning the 2013 Wimbledon final, while Wawrinka had not beaten a top ten player all season.
Murray took a firm step in breaking his own unwanted sequence when he held off strong challenges in his first and last service game to take the first set 6-4. He needed to save a break point at 1-0 and then broke to go 2-1 up when he hit a backhand overhead at the net to his opponent's feet.
With, unusually for this week, little rain around, the court was playing quicker than it had for several days, and that was in the Scot's favour. His strategy was to mix things up and deny the Swiss any rhythm, and his dropshots were working well.

Murray lost the third set against Wawrinka after the Swiss improved his previously questionable display

Murray lost the third set against Wawrinka after the Swiss improved his previously questionable display
Wawrinka tried to play a high energy game to motivate himself to improve and won the third set

Wawrinka tried to play a high energy game to motivate himself to improve and won the third set

He got into trouble when trying to serve it out, but pulled out the big serves when needed to save three break points that would have made it 5-5. Murray gave a feral cry of 'Let's go!' when he saved the first.
As Murray's first serve percentage went over 70 he made further inroads against the Wawrinka serve and drew ahead decisively with an exquisite backhand down the line that gave him a double break for 4-1.
Wawrinka, wearing a high-vis shirt, was still monstering some of his groundstrokes but Murray was the more solid and it was looking almost like a cruise when he took the second 6-2. 
He took a set point in the third set to deuce before gaining an advantage and won after an unforced error

He took a set point in the third set to deuce before gaining an advantage and won after an unforced error
Murray responded quickly in the fourth set of the contest and won during Wawrinka's first service game

Murray responded quickly in the fourth set of the contest and won during Wawrinka's first service game
Wawrinka struggled to keep pace with Murray after his exertions in turning around the third set of the contest

Wawrinka struggled to keep pace with Murray after his exertions in turning around the third set of the contest

The Swiss looked more purposeful in the third set, especially when he saved a break point in the third game, but Murray's serve was rock solid and in getting to 4-4 he lost only one service point out of seventeen. Then, without warning, he dropped his serve to allow Wawrinka to nick the set at the death. 
Murray, who had not lost a two set lead since he was eighteen, broke immediately in the fourth when the defending champion drove a forehand long. He then had two more chances to seal a decisive second break. But the Swiss was not letting his title go gently and shouting 'Come on!' saved himself to keep the pressure on. 
Finally the Murray hammer came down for the last time as he reeled off the last three games. Suddenly he looks as much as clay court expert as any Spaniard and on Sunday he will need to show that again. 
Murray reacts with joy after winning an important point in the semi-final against Wawrinka on Friday

Murray reacts with joy after winning an important point in the semi-final against Wawrinka on Friday

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