Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka to meet in French Open men's final

Busted Racquet
<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/olympics/rio-2016/a/1195086/" data-ylk="slk:Rafael Nadal">Rafael Nadal</a> hits a forehand against Dominic Thiem in the men’s semifinals of the French Open. (Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal hits a forehand against Dominic Thiem in the men’s semifinals of the French Open. (Getty Images)

The two men’s French Open semifinal matches on Friday couldn’t have been more different.

In the first contest, 2015 French Open champion and reigning US Open champion Stan Wawrinka pulled out a win against No. 1 Andy Murray after five sets and 4½ hours of tennis.

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The two veterans battled back and forth, with Murray winning the first and third sets and Wawrinka taking the second, fourth and critical fifth sets for a 6-7 (6), 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (3), 6-1 win.

Just one year ago, Wawrinka lost to Murray in the semifinals of this same tournament, but the Swiss player reversed his fate this year to become the oldest French Open finalist since 1973 at 32 years old.

“It’s incredible to be back to the finals here again. I’m just going to try my best,” Wawrinka said after his win. “After this, I want to celebrate and then I want to recover for Sunday. I think I’ll have another chance to win.”

No. 3 Wawrinka will now face Rafael Nadal, who holds a 78-2 record in this tournament, in the finals.

Nadal cruised to the last round of the French Open with a three-set victory over Dominic Thiem in his semifinal match. With a 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 win, Nadal put himself in position to battle towards a 10th French Open title. Wawrinka is standing in his way.

Nadal has lost only once on clay this season, falling to Thiem last month in the Rome quarterfinals. Nadal easily reclaimed his turf in France.

The day off on Saturday provides both Nadal and Wawrinka a chance to rest and refuel, but Murray, whose hopes for the French Open title were crushed by Wawrinka, will take the time to start focusing on Wimbledon. The Scottish star hopes to clinch his second title in as many years, and, despite his loss, Murray remains optimistic about the future.

He said the challenging, lengthy match against Wawrinka will better prepare him for matches on grass, and he looks forward to continuing to compete.

“I do feel like having an event like this can give me a boost, and hopefully have a strong grass-court season and try to understand what worked well this event and what worked well in the sort of 10 days in the buildup and the practices,” Murray said. “I have to make sure I continue to do that throughout the year, not make any mistakes with my preparation or my training, and hopefully finish the year strong.”

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