Science

Wawrinka stuns Murray, oldest French Open finalist in 44 years

Wawrinka stuns Murray, oldest French Open finalist in 44 years

In the 2015 final at Roland Garros, Wawrinka defeated Novak Djokovic, postponing the Serb's career Grand Slam for a year, and repeated the feat at the US Open in September with an enormously powerful display.

Rafael Nadal in his semifinal against Dominic Thiem of Austria. In 2017, he would go one step further by beating defending champion Stan Wawrinka.

"It's incredible to be back to the finals here again".

"To play Rafa on clay in the French Open in a final is probably the biggest challenge you can have in tennis", Wawrinka said. Eyes riveted on the ball, Wawrinka ripped his signature shot-the one-hander down the line-concluding a love break with his eighth straight point for 4-3. That's utter domination - even for the most prolific clay-court player ever. Then in that fourth set there was not a fag paper between them.

Murray ended 2016 at No. 1 after a string of successes, including a Wimbledon title, an unprecedented second consecutive Olympic gold medal and runner-up finishes at the Australian Open and French Open.

It was Murray's longest match of the tournament, where he had been tested nearly all the way - taken to four sets in his first two matches before steadying the ship, until the quarter-final where Kei Nishikori took the early initiative, forcing Murray to get the job done once more in four sets. Murray struck by breaking Wawrinka's serve in the next game.

Though Murray started well, clinching a tight first set in the tie-breaker, Wawrinka, a two-time champions here, hit back in the second.

Both men were producing big-time tennis in short and intense rallies.

Launching airborne, Wawrinka was flying in the doubles alley when he rocketed a 100 miles per hour forehand down the line opening the tie break with a bang.

The tension was palpable in a game that encapsulated the entire set.

The game was in the second set after Nadal had won the first set 6-2.

The Swiss had made more than twice as many winners of Murray but also twice the errors: big-time attack vs big-time counter-punching, and it was gripping.

He hasn't dropped a set in any of his matches and has lost just 29 games.

Wawrinka took the initiative with a crashing forehand victor and led 4-2 when Murray put an attempted dropshot into the net. But could he hold onto it this time?




The third set was a roller-coaster affair with several breaks of serve before Murray took it 7-5. The Swiss nabbed 15 points in a run of 20, capping with an angled volley victor, 3-0.

On a sunny Court Philippe Chatrier, she lobbed Garcia from the back of the court to give herself two match points. Now he had the run of points, 13 from 15, but Wawrinka held, only to be broken in the 11th game.

Despite more than four physical hours on court, Wawrinka was swinging freely firing 90 mph-plus forehands in banging out another break for 3-0.

The pair collaborated to produce some dynamic shot-making throughout the fourth set.

She only needed one, winning with a crosscourt forehand victor.

The 32-year-old Swiss lined up his favored backhand, but clipped the net trying to play over the high part of the net. He ended the day with a backhand down the line for his 87th victor - 51 more than Murray's 36.

His bruising assault was reflected with 87 winners offsetting his 77 unforced errors in the tournament's longest match.

"Nine or 10 is only 10 per cent more", Nadal joked, when asked about the historic nature of his bid to become the first man to win 10 titles at any major.

Murray's form in Paris had sent out mixed messages.

"He obviously hit some great shots in the fifth", Murray said, "but I didn't keep the score close enough to sort of put him under pressure". I did well considering.

"You can either think about being two one down after being ahead or focus on the fact that you were dominating and you can be in control of the points".

"But Stan is playing unbelievable, no?"

A long forehand from the Scot gave the Swiss three set points at 6-3 but he only needed one as he spanked another forehand service return victor down the line. It's not every day you get to a final like this. [But] I only have myself to blame for that, for the way I played coming into the tournament.

"I will have to play my best tennis".