Stanislas Wawrinka stormed into his second French Open final after defeating world number one Andy Murray in five gruelling sets at Roland Garros. The 2015 champion came from behind to win 6-7 6-3 5-7 7-6 6-1 in a contest lasting four hours and 32 minutes to set up a clash with either nine-time winner Rafael Nadal or Dominic Thiem of Austria.
Murray appeared on course to reach his second final in as many years after going two sets to one up and was five points from the final in the fourth set tiebreak. But Wawrinka kept his head to level the match and took that momentum into the decider, which he claimed without alarm.
Wawrinka, the current US Open champion, has not lost any of his previous three grand slam finals and is on course for his second title on the French dirt. Murray, meanwhile, will be left to reflect on an encouraging finish to the clay-court season as he prepares to defend his Wimbledon crown.
Having yet to drop a set on his way to the last four, Wawrinka was the marginal favourite to oust Murray and avenge his defeat in last year's semi-final when the Swiss was the defending champion. The number one seed had built gradually during the tournament but a lacklustre 2017 meant he had work to do in order to claim his maiden title in the French capital.
The idea of revenge was clearly on Wawrinka's mind in the opening exchanges and he broke for a 5-3 lead in the opening set with a forehand winner down the line. The former Australian Open and US Open champion was unable to convert however as a dogged Murray took it to a tiebreak.
Wawrinka was still dispatching winners without hesitation but he lacked cutting edge when it mattered. He produced a weak backhand on set point and was duly punished as Murray won three points in a row to take it 8-6.
But the oldest French Open semi-finalist in 32 years rallied and in game seven of the second set a double fault from Murray saw his serve broken as Wawrinka won eight points from 10. It was the catalyst for the champion from two years ago to win seven games in a row and take command in the third.
Murray was unperturbed and after three successive breaks he was level at 4-4 before turning the tables on Wawrinka with another break of a gruelling and at times exhausting set that came after the Briton produced a superb half-volley off his toes. A backhand into the net handed Murray a two sets to one lead and saw him put one foot in the final.
The decisive fourth set saw both players fail to recapture their best form as the intensity of the contest dropped and the crowd became increasingly subdued. Neither player gave an inch in the opening 12 games with break point chances at a premium, though the lengthy rallies which pushed the pair to their physical limits continued.
A tiebreak was the only way to separate them. Wawrinka grabbed a mini-break thanks to a thunderous forehand before a miss-played Murray drop shot hit the net. As the match ticked into a fifth hour, a long forehand from the 2016 runner-up brought up three set points for Wawrinka, who duly converted the first.
The momentum was now all with Wawrinka and he broke in the opening game of the deciding set after peppering the lines. Murray looked powerless, not to mention jaded, in the Paris sun as his opponent's groundstrokes began to fizz again. Wawrinka looked unstoppable, breaking the double Wimbledon champion four times to take his place in his fourth major final in as many years.
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