Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 April 2019

Andy Murray books French Open final against Novak Djokovic

British No 1 beats Stan Wawrinka in four sets to reach summit clash at Roland Garros for first time.
Andy Murray reached his first French Open final after beating Stan Wawrinka in four sets. Thomas Samson / AFP
Andy Murray reached his first French Open final after beating Stan Wawrinka in four sets. Thomas Samson / AFP

Andy Murray will play Novak Djokovic in the French Open final after ending Stan Wawrinka’s reign as the champion at Roland Garros on Friday.

The second seed reached the title match in Paris for the first time with a comprehensive 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 semi-final win over the Swiss title-holder who was on a 12-match winning streak in the tournament.

Djokovic won through earlier with a 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 win over Dominic Thiem of Austria.

Djokovic reached his fourth final to move one match closer to a career Grand Slam.

Sunday’s title match will also be the Serb’s 20th major final.

It will be the 29-year-old champion’s sixth successive grand slam championship match as he looks to add a first Roland Garros crown to his collection of 11 majors.

Victory on Sunday will also make him just the eighth man to complete the career Grand Slam.

“The atmosphere was fantastic. It’s the first time I have played a semi-final on the Suzanne Lenglen court,” said the top seed, who moved out to the secondary arena as organisers played catch-up in a rain-ruined schedule. “I played the best tennis of the tournament so far. I am now in the situation where I always dream of being each season, in the final of Roland Garros.”

Djokovic sprinted out to a 3-0 lead in the opener on the back of a break in the second game against 13th-seeded Thiem.

A double fault by the young Austrian opened the door for Djokovic to take the first set in the eighth game.

Thiem, who possesses a picture-perfect one-handed backhand, was undone by 20 unforced errors to just five by the world No 1.

Djokovic was just as untouchable in the second set despite playing for a fourth successive day as the slightly faster conditions played into his hands.

Breaks for the Serb came in the fourth and sixth games and the set was wrapped up in just 25 minutes.

Thiem, playing in his first grand slam semi-final, had taken just nine points off the Djokovic serve at that stage.

However, the form which had taken Thiem to a season-leading 25 match wins on clay this season, suddenly appeared as he broke and held for a 3-0 lead in the third set.

It had taken him 77 minutes to achieve his first break of the contest, much to the delight of a crowd getting value for money for their US$22 (Dh81) ticket investment.

But Djokovic roared back, sweeping the next five games for 5-3 before 22-year-old Thiem stopped the bleeding at 4-5.

The Austrian had one last chance to prolong his afternoon with a break point in the 10th game as Djokovic served for the match.

But the world No 1 was not to be denied as he went to match point and converted the opportunity when Thiem slipped a backhand wide.

Williams to face Muguruza in women’s final

Serena Williams outlasted gritty Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens in two tough sets on Friday to reach the French Open final, where she will play fourth seeded Spaniard Garbine Muguruza with her 22nd grand slam singles title at stake.

Defending champion Williams, who won the first of her three Roland Garros crowns in 2002, started slowly for the second day running, her early play littered with the unforced errors that had characterised Thursday’s laboured three-set quarter-final win against Kazakh Yulia Putintseva.

The champion was broken in the first game by her unseeded opponent who, entering the contest on a 12-match winning singles streak in all competitions, showed no sign of nerves in her first major semi-final.

Williams eventually took the first set 7-6 on a tiebreak that she edged 9-7, settling into a more comfortable rhythm in the second set, which she won 6-4.

“The first set was not very easy but I think that today I played better. [Bertens] played very well,” Williams said courtside.

For 58th-ranked Bertens, Friday’s defeat marked the end of an unprecedented major run she dubbed “crazy” after her quarter-final win on Thursday over Swiss eighth seed Timea Bacsinszky.

But she may well rue a failure to take her chances on Friday, when she converted just two of 10 break points.

After breaking early on Bertens – mixing the occasional dropshot in with powerful groundstrokes, especially on the forehand, and occasionally outhitting the American – had three chances to break again in the fifth game for what would have been a 4-1 first set lead.

But Williams held and, after saving a set point at 3-5, broke back in the next game with the help of a net chord that, had it dropped back on the American’s side, would have given Bertens two further set points.

Williams closed out the 57-minute set by bludgeoning a forehand down the line, set up by a powerful serve to end a set that took just under an hour.

With the Phillipe Chatrier showcourt still little more than half full as the unseasonably cold weather kept thousands of ticket-holders away, the drama continued into the second set, when Williams was broken again to trail 2-0.

But she broke straight back and conceded just two further games, closing out the match 6-4 on her fifth match point, when Bertens hit a forehand long, to reach Saturday’s final.

There she will attempt to equal Steffi Graf’s professional-era record of 22 grand slam singles titles.

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Updated: June 3, 2016 04:00 AM

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