Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland has advanced to the final of the French Open after a 3 hour 45 minute battle on Court Phillipe Chatrier. The 2014 Australian Open champion (d. Nadal) who is ranked 9th in the world always looked the likely winner as temperature reached 33 degrees Celcius on Day 13 at the Stade Roland Garros in Paris. The eventual scoreline was 6-3,6-7(1),7-6(3),6-4.
One year after loosing in the first round in 2014, the Swiss becomes only the first eighth seeded player to contest the final in Paris in the Open Era. Wawrinka, the 2003 junior champion ( d. Brian Baker) needed only one service break to claim the first set and looked to be in charge of the match as he led 4-2 in the second set with a break of serve.
Tsonga got the crucial break back in the eighth game and had to five break points at 5-5 before winning the tie-break comfortably 7-1. The third set lasted 72 minutes and featured no service break, Wawrinka held his nerves to claim it 7-3. He served 15 aces and saved 16 of the 17 break points he faced. The pair had split their six career meetings and at Roland Garros they split two setters previously, Wawrinka winning in 2011, while Tsonga won in 2012.
Wawrinka now awaits the winner of the second semi-final between the top seed Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, which was suspended with Djokovic leading by two sets to one and 3-3 in the fourth set. Djokovic who had not dropped a set previously in five matches seemed like coasting to another straight set win as he took the first two sets 6-3,6-3.
The match suddenly came to life when Murray who like Djokovic is on a 15 match winning streak on European clay without any defeats this year broke serve in the eleventh game of the third set and then held his serve to clinch it 7-5. Play continued and it looked like both players were finding it difficult to sight the ball in bad light. Murray first broke serve at 1-1 but Djokovic broke right back and had points for a 4-2 lead but Murray fought back to level at 3-3. Play was suspended after more than 3 hours on court and will resume at 1pm local time to be followed by the ladies final. [ No sooner than 3pm local time]
Women’s Singles Final
Lucie Safarova and Serena Williams will battle it out in the French Open final on Saturday, the top seeded American Williams will be bidding for her 20th Grand slam title. The 13th ranked player from the Czech Republic will be hoping to claim her maiden title. Williams has never lost to Safarova in all eight career meetings and it seems only Serena’s health stands in her way to clinch her 3rd title in Paris. Only the German Steffi Graf with 22 titles in the Open Era is ahead of Williams.
She goes into tomorrow’s match with a 31-1 record in 2015 which includes victory in Melbourne at the Australian Open (d. Sharapova) and should she win the title it would be the first time since Jeniffer Capriati in 2011 to win the first two majors in the same year. Only Maureen Connoly (1953), Margaret Court (1970) and Steffi Graf (1988) have attained the calendar slam with Graf also completing the Golden Slam by winning the Gold medal in Olympics at Seoul, South Korea. Williams revealed she was battling flu after her third round win over Victoria Azarenka and has been taken to three sets in four matches in Paris this year.
Safarova will be hoping to become the first Czech player since Hana Mandlikova won the ladies crown in 1981. That was before Czechoslovakia got split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. She is guaranteed a top ten ranking regardless of the outcome. She has nothing to lose but few would bet against Williams lifting the trophy on Saturday.
Prediction: Williams in three sets.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy.You can reach him at the email: email@example.com]