Up against World No.1 Andy Murray, the Swiss proved once again that offence is the best defense as he ‘winnered’ his way into the finals with 87 of those powering past the Scot. The 6-7,6-3,5-7,7-6,6-1 scoreline might give you an idea of how close it was but it will tell you nothing of the momentum that swung like a pendulum in those riveting four and a half hours. The first and the third set brought Murray’s defensive and fighting back skills to the fore. In the opening one, the resilient Scot, down 3-5 pushed it to a tie-break which he won 8-6. Even in the third he fell behind, surrendering that early break, but he rallied to bring it to 5 games all before securing the break himself to go 7-5 up.
Only in the second game could Stan Wawrinka consolidate the two breaks of serve to take the set 6-3. All along the triple set war, Murray put an unbelievable number of balls into play, forcing the Swiss to make those errors going for the winners. The champion player’s resolve never wavered and he was leading two sets to one at the end of it. Yet, everybody knew that the third seed was in with a chance, for the sheer quality and power of his thumping forehands and backhands were enough to unsettle any player and once those errors lessened even a wee bit, he would come right on top.
The fourth set was clearly the transition phase with both holding serves six times without even much of a hiccup. Murray came close to securing a match point and no further as the second tie-break of the match was set up. This time the Swiss was determined not to lose and lead from the very beginning. The World No.1 was playing catch up the entire time and at 4-3, three straight points to the 32 year old denied him a win to reach his second straight French Open Final.
The transition completed, the fifth set was Stan all the way as he raced to a 5-0 lead, breaking the tired Murray thrice to set up a chance to serve out the match. The most important game in this set was perhaps the fourth on the Swiss’s serve which he held to 30 as in the third set too the Scot had been down 0-3 before staging a comeback. After the quarter finals saw two bagels being played out, the eventual loser throwing in the towel in the closing stages of a match, Murray’s efforts were noteworthy as he managed to break Wawrinka’s serve and avoid the humiliating 6-0 soreline . This effort alone tells how great a player he is,how greata champion he is, as his fatigued body refusing to accept drubbing fought on, even if it meant nothing for the result of the match. Right next game the inevitable happened as Wawrinka powered one of his backhands down the line on his first match point and sealed the deal.
He is scheduled to meet the seemingly invincible Rafael Nadal on Sunday for the summit clash. The King of Clay, today, was facing the only person to have beaten him on clay this year but there were no signs of the Spaniard even thinking about the loss against Thiem a few weeks ago. Neither did the fact that the young Austrian had comprehensively beaten the title defender in his previous match seem to bother him in the very least. Nadal was playing his natural game, ruthless and accurate, hitting winners at will, drawing out errors from his opponent by sending back almost every ball. Thiem seemed to wilt in the presence of the great, his number of unforced errors going up by the minute. The fact that he had been unable to convert the break points that had come and gone numerous times lowered his confidence and eventually made him lose the third 0-6 to a merciless Nadal.
To be very frank the King looks invincible. The counter to his forehands that frustratingly land on the line more often than not and his defensive skills has not yet been found. Not only has he not dropped a set throughout the tournament, the Spaniard has not even been stretched to a 7 game one, let alone a tiebreaker. On the other hand, Stanislas Wawrinka has always been the man of big occasions, never having let go of the opportunity of winning the Slam with that last hurdle to cross. In simple words he has never lost a Major final. Having said that, Nadal on clay at his very best will be different story altogether to what Stan has faced till date. It will take more than an enormous effort from him to topple the man who is playing like a dream this year searching for an unimaginable 10th Roland Garros crown!