French Open 2016: Murray slays Wawrinka to reach first Roland Garros final of career

The 29-year-old Scot will face familiar foe Novak Djokovic in Sunday's final when both will be trying to win their first title at Roland Garros

French Open 2016: Murray slays Wawrinka to reach first Roland Garros final of career
(Picture from Eurosport)

Andy Murray has earned his first crack at a French Open final, after slaying defending champion Stanislas Wawrinka in four sets.

The 29-year-old from Dunblane could become the first British man to lift the title at Roland Garros since Fred Perry 79 years ago, following a 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 semi-final victory.

He will face a familiar foe in Sunday’s final in the shape of world number one Novak Djokovic, who will be attempting to become only the fourth man in the open era to win all four majors.

Murray knows only too well the feeling of coming second best to the Serb, who denied him at the semi-final stage here 12 months ago and conquered the Scot in the Australian Open final earlier this year.

Yet Murray won the pair’s last meeting on clay at the Rome Masters just a couple of weeks ago, and appears to be playing the best tennis of his career on the surface - hence his first semi-final victory in the French capital.

It hasn’t always been straight forward this fortnight and in his opening round Murray came within two points of failing at the first hurdle against Czech veteran Radek Stepanek.

That is long in the past now though, and at times the tennis he produced to beat Wawrinka, who powered his way to the title in Paris 12 months ago, was simply breath-taking.

Little between them beforehand

Before the match there was little to choose between the two players, with Murray leading the pair’s head to head record by eight matches to seven.

The Swiss had won the last three meetings and the last two at Grand Slam events, though a lot has changed since their paths crossed at the US Open three years ago.

It had the ingredients of a French Open classic and - at the start of play - it was unclear in whether it would be Murray’s impeccable defence or Wawrinka’s devastating attack which would progress to the final.

Stan Wawrinka's powerful game failed to break down the Murray defensive wall (Source: Au.Eurosport)
Stan Wawrinka's powerful game failed to break down the Murray defensive wall (Source: Au.Eurosport)

Wawrinka’s powerful ball striking, off both the forehand and backhand wing, was the major factor when he defeated Novak Djokovic in the final last year.

Murray halts Wawrinka attack

The Swiss applied some early pressure on the Murray serve here; however the Brit was able to save the first break point of the match in the second game of the match by knifing away a volley into the open court.

From there the Murray took control and brilliantly nullified Wawrinka’s offensive game by manoeuvring the Swiss from one corner of the court to another.

There was the occasional drop shot thrown in, though not as many as in the early stages of his quarter-final victory over Richard Gasquet when the tactic became a little too predictable.

In that match Murray let the Frenchman back into the opening two sets when he failed to serve them out

There was no repeat of that here though, and Murray’s first serve stood up to the task when he saved three break points at 5-4 before sealing the opening set.

The Brit’s momentum picked up speed in the second set and he continued to do a fine job of keeping the ball out of the ominous Wawrinka strike zone.

Murray’s serve showed no signs of faltering as he raced into a 5-2 lead in the second, while Wawrinka’s groundstrokes continued to misfire.

Defending champion pulls it back by winning the third

After falling two sets behind the Swiss started serving in the third and made the most of his advantage to apply some scoreboard pressure.

At last there were signs of the Wawrinka from last year, as the Swiss’ began to grow in confidence and rip winners from the back of the court.

After saving a break point in the seventh game, the Swiss went on to convert his first set point on Murray’s serve when leading 5-4.

Murray reponds admirably, will meet Djokovic on Sunday     

Murray’s response to adversity was even more impressive though, and he quickly went on the attack at the start of the fourth to claim Wawrinka’s opening service game.  

The defending champion did all he could to try and energise the Philippe Chatrier crowd, who would have been keen to see some more tennis and a deciding fifth set.

However Murray was simply too strong and ran away set, which he won by six games to two.

Djokovic awaits in the final when both will attempt to win their first title at this prestigious Grand Slam.