French Open 2017: Stan Wawrinka, Rafael Nadal Win Semi-Finals at Roland Garros

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJune 9, 2017

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 09:  Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland celebrates victory following the mens singles semi-final match against Andy Murray of Great Britain on day thirteen of the 2017 French Open at Roland Garros on June 9, 2017 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Stan Wawrinka beat Andy Murray in a five-set epic at the French Open on Friday, setting up a final with Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros.

Falling behind twice in the match, Wawrinka produced some stunning tennis with his back to the wall and eventually bulldozed his way past Murray in a 6-7 (6), 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (3), 6-1 win. The victory gives the Swiss a chance to clinch his second title at this event, having won in 2015.

Next up for him will be Nadal, who continued his imperious form against a strong opponent in Dominic Thiem. Looking for a 10th win at Roland Garros, the Spaniard was the dominant force throughout the encounter, winning 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 to set up the clash with Wawrinka.

Friday Results

(3) Stan Wawrinka bt. (1) Andy Murray, 6-7(6), 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-1

(4) Rafael Nadal bt. (6) Dominic Thiem, 6-3, 6-4, 6-0

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Friday Recap

Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates after winning against Austria's Dominic Thiem their semifinal tennis match at the Roland Garros 2017 French Open on June 9, 2017 in Paris.  / AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS        (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Gett

Given Murray and Wawrinka are such determined competitors, matches between the pair in the past have been absorbing to watch. After the top seed clinched an even opener on a tiebreak, this one was bound to follow suit.

Wawrinka levelled in the second stanza, although Murray found a way again in the third, giving the 2015 champion a mountain to climb. But climb it he did.

As we can see courtesy of the tournament's official Twitter feed, on his way to a win in the fourth, the Swiss was playing some exceptional tennis:

Roland-Garros @rolandgarros

How. Did. He. Do. This? Any explanations welcome, @stanwawrinka... #RG17 https://t.co/73yfQltx7B

An emphatic win in the tiebreak gave Wawrinka more momentum, and after he got stuck into Murray's serve at the start of the decider, the match was his for the taking. Indeed, the world No. 1 eventually did well to avoid a bagel in the fifth, as his opponent hit him off the court.

Wawrinka's backhand was a key feature in the match.
Wawrinka's backhand was a key feature in the match.Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

There were times in the match when Wawrinka looked inconsistent and erratic in his shot selection. But once again he proved that when he's in the groove and at his very best, there's no player on any surface who can contain his sizzling backhand.

Per the Live Tennis Twitter feed, the third seed has some firepower in his arsenal:

Live Tennis @livetennis

Check out those winner stats from #Wawrinka. Reminder: He's never lost a Grand Slam final. https://t.co/tlgl0OqMfD

He'll need all of that and more if he's to overcome Nadal in Sunday's showpiece, as the nine-time champion continued his incredible form at the French Open.

While the day's earlier semi-final was one of the most even contests of the competition, Nadal was in total control of this one from the off. Thiem, who beat defending champion Novak Djokovic in the quarters, was like a rabbit caught in headlights.

Nadal has been imperious at Roland Garros.
Nadal has been imperious at Roland Garros.Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

There was always a sense Nadal had extra gears to go through, as he comfortably held the first two sets. In the third, a dejected Thiem unravelled, failing to win a game. As noted by Sports Illustrated's Jon Wertheim, this was supposed to be a tough match for Nadal:

Jon Wertheim @jon_wertheim

Nadal remains in this trance of clay-greatness. 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 over the player many thought represent the best chance of dethronement.

Given Nadal's route to the final—one he has made look relatively straightforward—and his pedigree on clay, there's no doubt he is the favourite for Sunday's encounter.

The Spaniard has adapted his game as he's grown older, as he lacks the extraordinary dynamism he once had. Even so, the 31-year-old still possesses the power, precision and point management skills to bully every player in the world on this surface.

Wawrinka, by contrast, will surely be a little jaded from his match against Murray. The Swiss may have won all three of the Grand Slam finals he has been involved in so far, but this is undoubtedly the toughest assignment he has faced in his career to date.


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