Wawrinka defeats Murray in thriller
Originally published on 09/06/17 00:00
It was a fiercely competitive heavyweight clash between two Grand Slam champions however it was the attacking prowess of the Swiss that proved to be the telling factor in a one-sided deciding set.
Wawrinka, who will play Rafael Nadal in Sunday’s final, was thrilled with the resilience he showed: "There are always two ways of looking at things,” remarked the Swiss. “You can either think about being two [sets to] one down after being ahead or focus on the fact that you were dominating and in control of the points. That’s what I preferred to do. Against Andy you know he’s going to make you play a lot of balls. He plays lots of different shots, but I just stuck to my guns.”
The first set bounded along at quite a pace as both players rattled through routine service holds. The match burst into life in the eighth game, though, when a thumping forehand passing-shot winner gave the Swiss a 5-3 advantage; however he was pegged back immediately.
A tiebreak was called upon to decide the outcome and it will be remembered for a remarkable topspin backhand lob from Murray. It was touch of genius from the world No.1 at a critical moment, and it helped him pocket the opening set.
In the last eight meetings between Murray and Wawrinka, the winner of the first set has eventually claimed victory. It was a long road back for the Swiss, but he began to pepper the lines with his crunching groundstrokes and was soon level on the scorebaord.
Wawrinka’s relentless attacking approach helped him establish a 4-2 third set lead, but Murray was soon plotting a route back. The Wimbledon champion increased the velocity on his groundstrokes and he found the perfect blend between defence and attack to snatch it 7-5.
There was limited action in an uneventful fourth set and another tiebreak was necessary. The Swiss established control of the breaker early, and he was soon bellowing in delight as he forced a final set shootout.
Murray had been on court three hours longer than his opponent leading into the semi-finals and he began to struggle physically. In contrast, Wawrinka, who had not dropped a set in his first five matches, was energetic and excitable.
The crowd, who had been firmly behind Wawrinka for the majority of the contest, roared the 2015 champion over the finishing line. The 32-year-old was in scintillating form as he thumped 15 winners in just seven games to end Murray’s French Open hopes for another year.