Stan Wawrinka booked a place in the 2017 French Open final on Friday with a thrilling 6-7, 6-3, 5-7, 7-6, 6-1 victory over world number one Andy Murray.
Wawrinka gets revenge for 2016 semi-final defeat
The 2015 winner will face nine-time champion Rafa Nadal or Dominic Thiem for the title after avenging his loss to Murray at the same stage last year.
Wawrinka triumphed in a pulsating four-hour-34-minute battle and, at 32 years and 75 days, becomes the oldest finalist in Paris since Nikola Pilic in 1973.
For Murray, the wait goes on to be crowned Britain's first men's champion in Paris since Fred Perry back in 1935.
Nadal vs Thiem: follow it live with AS English
Nadal vs Thiem is underway in Friday's second last-four clash at Roland Garros, and you can follow it live online with AS English.
Wawrinka beats Murray in five sets: as it happened
Murray vs Wawrinka live online: preview
Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka will face each other for the first time since the ATP finals last November when the first and third seeds take to the court in Friday’s second semi-final at Roland Garros.
It will be the 18th meeting between the current world number one and number three, with Murray holding a 10-7 advantage in their head-to-head record and a repeat of last year’s last-four encounter in Paris, which the Scot took in four sets to reach his first French Open final. Wawrinka was the defending champion last year after claiming the title in 2015 in a four-set defeat of Novak Djokovic.
Wawrinka holds a slight edge on clay
Both Murray and Djokovic are more comfortable on other surfaces but the world number one was schooled on clay in Barcelona and the Swiss won the junior French Open title in 2003. Of their 17 career meetings only three have taken place on clay, with Wawrinka holding a 2-1 advantage, although those victories came in 2013 and 2008.
The most recent game between the pair, whose rivalry stretches back to a Davis Cup tie in 2005, which Wawrinka won in straight sets, is the most pertinent and Wawrinka will not hold fond memories of his 6–4, 6–2, 4–6, 6–2 defeat last year. However, the Swiss retained his title at the Geneva Open in preparation for the second slam of the year.
Murray has become more consistent on clay since winning his first title on the surface in Munich in 2015, going on to claim Masters successes in Madrid and Rome, the only three of his 45 career titles to date garnered on the slower surface. A career win-loss record of 102-45 on the red stuff underlines the adjustments he has had to make to gain a competitive edge on clay and the length of the process. His only comparable record on any other surface is a win percentage of just over 50 percent on the now-defunct carpet.
Wawrinka’s record is only marginally better than Murray’s, the Swiss enjoying a 49-percent win rate on clay to the Scot’s 44 percent and the third seed has yet to drop a set in Paris. He has been taken close in four tie-breaks but prevailed in all, his finger-to-head celebration after key moments a note to his team that the strength of mind occasionally lacking in his earlier career is consigned to history.
Murray growing into Roland Garros 2017
Against Murray, one of the fiercest competitors on the ATP Tour, Wawrinka will need every ounce of that self-belief and a straight sets drubbing of seventh seed Marin Cilic in the previous round was the perfect preparation. The world number one was blown off the court in his quarter-final in the opening set by Kei Nishikori but adjusted his tactics, stepping in on the eighth seed’s inviting second serve and took the next three sets 6-1, 7-6, 6-1, winning the tie-break 7-0.
Murray dropped a set in each of his first two games in Paris but found his groove against old foe Juan Martín del Potro and has showed time and again at Roland Garros that he has the stomach for what will potentially be a five-set marathon on Friday.