Stanislas Wawrinka continued to prove he’s the man for the big occasion, digging deep to beat top-seed Andy Murray 6-7 (6), 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (3), 6-1 in an epic French Open semifinal that lasted over four and a half hours on Friday.
Winner at Roland Garros in 2015, the 32-year-old Swiss didn't have the best of starts, losing a thrilling tie-break, but as the match progressed, it became obvious who had the fresher set of legs.
Wawrinka hadn't dropped a single set enroute to the the semifinal at the Philippe-Chatrier court, while Murray had been stretched to four sets in the Round one and two.
While Murray was a bit lucky to edge the opener, Wawrinka stamped his class early on in the second, playing some brilliant tennis but the World No.1’s persistence kept him in the game.
The third set was remarkable, for Wawrinka was seemingly in the clear at 3-0 up but Murray roared back to level proceedings at 5-5, before crucially breaking the third-seeded Swiss and taking the set 7-5.
There were plenty of opportunities to break in the penultimate set, but with neither player able to capitalise, a tie-break loomed large for the second time in the semifinal. The clock read four hours and top-seed Murray was looking tired, but Wawrinka was just getting started as he quickly built a lead to set up three set-points. The Swiss needed just the one to force the match into a deciding fifth set, which went by in a breeze compared to the others.
Murray, winner of their semifinal at the 2016 French Open, had slumped his shoulders in the tie-break and seemed to have given up in the fifth set, which was evident by apparent ease that Wawrinka broke him in successive games to race into a 5-0 lead.
While Murray broke back to make the score a little less one-sided at 5-1, Wawrinka was in no mood to let up and broke the Scot back to reach his second final in three years.
Wawrinka now has close to 48 hours to recover from Friday’s epic as he will face the winner of the Rafael Nadal-Dominic Thiem semifinal on Sunday.