French Open 2016:  Andy Murray produces a semi final masterclass as he downs Stan Wawrinka

French Open 2016:  Andy Murray produces a semi final masterclass as he downs Stan Wawrinka
(Source: Jonathan Walsh, VAVEL)
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The players are ready....Stan Wawrinka to serve...and we're off! 

If Murray were to reach the final, he would be the first British man to reach the French Open final since Bunny Austin in 1937.  The first Brit to reach the final was H Briggs, first name unknown, who won the first ever edition of the tournament in 1891.    

The excitement is building, the tension rising and the tennis just over the horizon.  Magnus Norman, Wawrinka's coach, and Jamie Delgado, Murray's, eagerly watch their men.  

The players are finally out on court and are just beginning their final warm ups.  

One sour point of note, the crowd still looks rather sparse, in  a shameful show of support for the French Open.  Given the ticket scandal, the weather, the lack of Roger Federer and now this, hard to see this being a foundly remembered year.  

Between the matches, tennis legend Rod Laver is out on the court as he collects an award from the French Tennis Federation.  

Now we patiently await the Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka match, which should begin soon.  Again, the VAVEL writers have all given their backing for a Murray win, but how do you see it going? 

GAME, SET and Match, Serena Williams.  She defeats Kiki Bertens 7-6(7) 6-4 and will now face Garbine Muguruza in the final.  

However, the drama isn't finished yet and despite having three chances, Serena fails to convert and Bertens bravely wins the game.  Serena will serve for her place in the final, which means we shouldn't be too far away from Wawrinka and Murray.  

Match point for Serena Williams....

In the other match, Serena Williams may have finally halted the Bertens charge, leading the second set 4-3 with a break having won the first set on a tiebreak.  

We have our first winner of the day and our first finalist for the 2016 French Open.  Garbine Muguruza has beaten Sam Stosur in straight sets, 6-2 6-4 and will face either Serena Williams or Kiki Bertens in her second grand slam final tomorrow.  Stay tuned for our report later.   

So the VAVEL team have given their whole backing to Murray, but only time will tell if we have been wise or not. 

Luke Anderson: Murray, straight sets for me. Whilst I think it will be a close match in terms of games, I can see Murray edging each set after scares earlier on in this tournament.  (Winner: Murray) 

Serena Williams and Kiki Bertens are now into a tiebreak, in what is shaping up to be a stunningly good game of tennis.  Whereas Sam Stosur has the break back and it's back onto serve in that one.  

Sam Johnson: Stan's always a dangerous player and has the ability to power anyone off the court as he showed in last year's final, but for me it's tough to predict anything other than a Murray win today. Both the slow court and Murray’s superb defence will blunt the defending champion's huge groundstrokes somewhat, and the Scot's second serve isn't as attackable as it once was. Murray's greater all-round strength should see him through in four or five sets, but if Wawrinka gets hot, he will take some stopping, today or any day.  (Winner: Murray) 

Joe Nicholson: I’ll go Murray in five, in many ways it’s too close to call and should be a fascinating match to see if Murray’s defence can stand up to Wawrinka’s attack. I think the longer it goes on the more it will favour Murray as he is the fitter player. The Brit has played his way into the tournament has played some of his best tennis on clay in the past few months. He served well and won a lot of free points when he won the title in Rome so that could be the deciding factor in this match. (Winner: Murray) 

Neil LeverettSlightly cooler conditions should favour Murray. Wawrinka's best game is when the ball travels faster in warmer weather. Murray short game should see him through, with the scot seemingly on a mission to finally win at RG.  (Winner: Murray) 

The VAVEL team have been having their say on who they think will win today's crucial match between Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray . 

Elsewhere, Garbine Muguruza is making a mockery of Sam Stosur and has raced into a 6-2 2-1 lead with a break in the second set.  There only looks like one winner in that one.  

So just over an hour away until we potentially begin, assuming either Kiki Bertens or Serena Williams can win their clash before then - it currently stands at 5-5 in the first set but Bertens had been serving for the set.  

Please get in touch @VavelUKTennis and let us know how you see this one going! 

It is a close one to call, and if I were to put my neck on the line I would go for a Murray win in five.  Whilst Wawrinka dominates their recent head-to-head, they have only met once in the last three years, in such time Murray has improved dramatically both in general and especially on the clay.  Although Murray has endured a difficult route to the final, Wawrinka has benefitted from a pleasing draw and only had to face two men inside the top fifty of the world, Chardy and Troicki.  Whereas Murray, despite his struggles, has beaten three, including the ninth seeded Richard Gasquet.  

Whilst Wawrinka was nothing but complimentary towards the Brit.  'If you were to compare our two careers, he's well ahead of me given all the titles, the finals, number two in the world.'  Before continuing, 'He's in the 'Big Four' [along with Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer]. There is a reason for this. Maybe he has fewer titles than the other three, but he's always been with them during the semis, the finals. His career is very, very impressive'

'I believe I can win the event. It's possible and only a couple of matches away now. I'll just give everything I've got the next few days,' Murray said in the build up to match.  'It is going to be extremely difficult [but] hopefully I can play my best tennis and reach my first final here'

However Murray is indisputably a far better player on clay now than he was in the past, having won three tournaments in two years on the surface, including a comprehensive win over Novak Djokovic in this year's Rome Masters.  

On clay, Wawrinka is distantly leads the head-to-head having won both of their contests on the dirt; during the 2013 Monte Carlo Masters, and back to 2008 for the Rome Masters.  

The record is equal in terms of the grand slams at two-all, with Wawrinka having won their most recent at the 2013 US Open, one of two Wawrinka victories over Murray that year.  They also met at the 2010 US Open, Wawrinka win, and the 2009 Wimbledon Championships, Murray, and the 2008 US Open, again Murray.  

Who has the upperhand in this tussle?  Well the head-to-head record reads as Murray leading it by one solitary victory, 8-7.  However, Stan Wawrinka has won the last three contests between the two players, the most recent at the 2015 World Tour Finals.  You have to go all the way back to 2012 for a Murray win, the Tokyo Open where he eventually lost in the semi finals.    

Stan Wawrinka with his trophy after last year's win (Source: Susan Mullane USA Today)
Stan Wawrinka with his trophy after last year's win (Source: Susan Mullane USA Today)

His run this year certainly pales in comparison to last year, where the winner had to defeat Giles Simon, Roger Federer, Jo Wilfried Tsonga and then Novak Djokovic on his way to the title.  

He opened his account by defeating Lukas Rosol in his toughest match of the tournament so far.  Going down two-sets-to-one, the Swiss showed remarkable composure to fight back.  He followed this small scare up with convincing displays against Japan's Taro Daniel, and France's Jeremy Chardy, before dropping one set in his win over Viktor Troicki.  He then dispatched Albert Ramos Vinolas in three comfortable sets to reach the semi finals.

However, his place in the final is far, far from guaranteed and he will have to overcome both the defending champion and a man who has coasted into the semi finals.  Stan Wawrinka, who shocked Novak Djokovic for his second grand slam in last year's final, has dropped only three sets on his route to the final.  

A much younger Andy Murray during his 2008 US Open run (Source: AP)
A much younger Andy Murray during his 2008 US Open run (Source: AP)

It means he finds himself in his second consecutive French Open semi final, having lost to Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic respectively, and his third overall.   In what will be his nineteenth grand slam semi final, his first came way back at the 2008 US Open where he eventually lost in a one-sided final to Roger Federer, he will hoping to make his first ever French Open final; it would meant he Scot will have reached every major final in his career.   

His quarter final looked for a while that it may follow the trend of his opening rounds when he dropped the opening set to Richard Gasquet of France, and found himself a mini-break down in a second set tiebreak.  However, the Scot showed great composure to claw his way back into the match before romping to an easy victory.

The rounds which followed provided welcome solace for the world number two, when he thrashed the big serving Ivo Karlovic in straight sets, and the equally big serving John Isner in a similar scoreline.

Andy Murray during his earlier round matches (Source: Getty Images)
Andy Murray during his earlier round matches (Source: Getty Images)

In any case, both players have battled their way through to the final, beating both players and the weather.  Andy Murray's route to the final, like it often is with him, has been far from easy viewing.  In the first round, he was two-sets-to-love down and on the brink against the veteran Radek Stepanekbefore he raced back to steal the win. In the second round, he faced the unknown Frenchman Mathias Bourgue and again found himself in a dangerous position going two-sets-to-one down.  Again, he somehow found a way through.

It would be a welcome relief for both players to play an uninterrupted match having both endured rain delays and cancellations.  In fact, Day Nine's abandonment was the first washout at the French Open this millenium.

Hopefully the weather will look favourably on us today, with grey skies forecast but no rain post-Midday.  In a tournament drenched by the heavens, a weekend of grey would be a welcome change. 

Hello and a very warm welcome to VAVEL's Live Score Commentary of what should be a mouth watering semi final clash between Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka for a place in the French Open final.  The match is scheduled to start at around 2pm UK time, weather permitting, and we will have game-by-game commentary from then.  So please join me, Jack Haugh, from then.