By Ros Satar

  • Andy Murray [2] def. Richard Gasquet [9] 5-7 7-6(3) 6-0 6-2
  • Murray reaches his third straight semi-final in Paris
  • Faces defending champion Stan Wawrinka – H2H: Murray leads 8-7

PARIS, FRANCE – Andy Murray edged past last Frenchman standing, Richard Gasquet, and will face defending champion Stan Wawrinka for place in his first Roland Garros final.

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Andy Murray [2] def. Richard Gasquet [9] 5-7 7-6(3) 6-0 6-2

After finally reaching the quarter-final, his best placing in 13 attempts, finally  Gasquet’s luck ran out, as he bowed out to Murray, but not without putting up quite a fight. On another gloomy day in Paris, a half empty Chatrier court greeted the players after Novak Djokovic booked his place in the quarter-finals.

The muted atmosphere told on Gasquet who swiftly found himself on the wrong end of a 4-1 score-line and it was all looking so easy. Gone were the memories of Murray’s faltering start, as he looked to serve out the first set at 5-3. Remember that score-line.

An incredible lapse of concentration saw Gasquet win seven games on the bounce, to take the first set – even if it took the Frenchman four set points to break the Brit. By now of course the crowds were coming back and the crowd was getting behind their man.

Gasquet was no longer stading so far back he could have been in the Bois de Boulogne, and his aggressive play was giving Murray, fans and pundits alike conniptions, as somewhat unbelievable serving for the set at 5-3 Gasquet broke Murray’s serve again. This time Murray kept him at bay to force a tie-break, coming back from 1-3 down to win the next six points to level the match.

Gasquet did a more than passable impersonation of a soufflé collapsing in a draught as Murray romped through the third set without the loss of a game, before closing out the match.

As reported in ATPWorldTour.com, Gasquet could only rue losing his position in the second set tiebreak, saying: “I’m leading 3/1… Then he is playing unbelievable.”

That was the key for the match, as Murray would confirm, saying:

“That stretch of five or six points was huge from 3/1… Those points changed the match. Obviously the match could have been more comfortable had I done better serving out the first two sets. But, aside from that, I was playing some good stuff. I finished the match extremely well, I think. It wasn’t easy for me today.”

 

Andy Murray [2] v Stan Wawrinka [3] – H2H: Murray leads 8-7

 

In the muggy, heavy conditions, Wawrinka showed just how much of a power-house he can be when it comes to hitting through a sluggish court, as he gave Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas a bit of a mauling. With conditions looking to remain heavy and claggy this can only play in the Swiss’ favour.

Talking to ATPWorldTour.com, Wawrinka said: “In general, I quite like the conditions here in Paris. I am still able to hit through the ball and make some winners.

“We haven’t played that much in the past few years,” Wawrinka continued. “[Murray]’s improved a lot on clay. He’s playing so well, especially if you look at this year. He won Rome, made the final in Madrid and made the semi-finals in Monaco.

“So it’s going to be an interesting match. We’ve had good battles in the past, so I’m quite happy to play him. I think it’s going to be a great challenge.”

Both players started badly in so far as being pushed to five sets. Murray took it a step further by being pushed the distance for a second time before playing two big servers who would give him no rhythm and shorter rallies.

Wawrinka may have the power and a hard to gauge single-handed backhand, but is not averse to throwing in error strewn games as his closer third set with Ramos-Vinolas proved, before digging out a 6-2 6-1 7-6(7) win.

Murray’s fitness has been renowned on the tour for some time now, but he and Wawrinka are pretty evenly matched in that respect. Both have moment where their concentration takes a walk off the map. His association with Magnus Norman has helped eradicate the mental fragility that Wawrinka was cursed with.

Wawrinka has won all three of their clay court encounters, and Murray will be looking to snap a three match losing streak against the Swiss going back to the Monte Carlo Masters in 2013.

Murray will need to be aggressive – Wawrinka will be able to hit through the court all the live long day, and so solid serving and lots of variety will be key. He cannot afford the kinds of lapses of concentration he has had and we expect this to be quite the war of attrition.

Prediction: Murray in five sets.

Play continues on Thursday at 1pm (12pm BST).

 

 

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