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10sBalls • Ricky’s Best ATP Matches Of 2017: No. 5 Is Wawrinka vs. Murray At The French Open

Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland in action against Andy Murray of Britain during their men?s singles semi final match during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 09 June 2017. EPA/CAROLINE BLUMBERG



Ricky’s best ATP matches of 2017: No. 5 is Wawrinka vs. Murray at the French Open


By Ricky Dimon

Over the next week, Ricky is counting down his top 10 men’s matches of the year, in order from No. 10 all the way down to No. 1. It continues at No. 5, with a five-set French Open thriller between Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray. The Scot put himself one set away from the final, but Wawrinka roared back and powered his way through the fourth and fifth with an array of spectacular winners.


French Open semifinals: Stan Wawrinka d. Andy Murray 6-7(8), 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-1

When the main draw began at Roland Garros, 127 men were playing for second place (see: Nadal, Rafael). They did the same, it should be noted, at Wimbledon one month later (see: Federer, Roger). But that did nothing to diminish the entertainment level en route to championship Sunday’s inevitable conclusion.


And once the battle for second place had dwindled down to two players, that entertainment level ratcheted up in a major way.


In an engrossing semifinal showdown, Wawrinka and Murray slugged it out on the red clay of Roland Garros for four hours and 34 minutes. The five-set affair was a back-and-forth roller-coaster right from the start, as Wawrinka served for the opening set at 5-3, got broken, and also failed to capitalize on a set point in the tiebreaker before dropping it 10 points to eight.


The French Open winner in 2015, Wawrinka crushed 18 winners in the second set and cruised through it with two breaks of the Murray serve. They traded breaks in the third before the then-world No. 1 earned another break in the 11th game and served it out at 6-5. That paved the way to a high-quality fourth set, in which both players finished with five more winners than unforced errors without facing a single break point. A dominant performance by the Swiss in the ensuing ‘breaker proved to be the final turning point.


With momentum in hand, there was no letup from Wawrinka throughout the fifth. He cracked 15 winners to his opponent’s three, saved all four of the break points he faced, and converted match point at 5-1, 40-15 with an emphatic down-the-line backhand winner.


“I think it was quite a tough match today,” Wawrinka commented. “A big battle…. For sure it was amazing match I felt on the court. I enjoyed playing this match. For sure when you win, it’s better after. We had some crazy points with some good rallies, with some good level of tennis. And to play a semifinal here, at the French Open against Andy, No. 1 in the world, that’s something really special.


“So for sure I (will) enjoy it. I want to enjoy it a lot, because, as I say, it’s not all the time you can say you’re going to play a final of a Grand Slam, especially in Paris. I really want to enjoy that.”


“I came in playing garbage,” Murray admitted, referring to his pre-tournament form. “I’m proud of the tournament I had; I did well considering. I was one tiebreak away from getting to the final when I came in really struggling. So I have to be proud of that.


“Maybe the lack of matches hurt me a little bit in the end today. That was a very high intensity match–a lot of long points. When you haven’t been playing loads, over four-and-a-half hours, that can catch up to you a little bit.”


Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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