Andy Murray-Novak Djokovic semi-final spills over to Saturday
Scot fought back from two sets down before weather and light stopped play; winner to face Stan Wawrinka
Andy Murray reacts during his French Open semi-final against Novak Djokovic, which will be completed on Saturday. Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images
France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (left) congratulates Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka on winning their men’s semi-final match at the French Open. Photo: Pascal Guyot/AFP/Getty Images
Andy Murray will have to continue his fightback from two sets down against Novak Djokovic on Saturday after their French Open semi-final was suspended for bad light and impending rain.
Murray clawed back the third set in an enthralling contest on Philippe Chatrier before the match was halted with the Scot trailing 3-6 3-6 7-5 3-3.
Bad light and an imminent storm means Murray and Djokovic will resume play at midday Irish time on Saturday as they look to book a meeting with Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka in Sunday’s final.
Djokovic has beaten Murray in each of their last seven meetings and the world number one looked certain to make it eight when he raced through two comfortable opening sets.
Murray, however, defied the odds, producing some brilliant tennis to clinch the third, and at the time of suspension it was arguably the Scot who was in the ascendancy.
Neither player will be happy with the extension given the additional rest Wawrinka now takes into the final, but Djokovic will be at least be grateful for the chance to take stock.
Murray has never beaten Djokovic after losing the opening set and the Scot laid down a marker in the first game with a brilliant cross-court forehand winner.
The Serbian offered Murray some encouragement – not through his shot-making, but his body language – as he seemed to signal he was dizzy in the sweltering heat and unable to see clearly.
A doctor was called for the change of ends but mysteriously sent away again, in echoes of the final in Melbourne when an injured Djokovic looked on the brink of collapse only to come storming back.
His recovery was swift again as Murray wafted a simple short forehand wide to give the world number one three break points at 4-3, and he showed no mercy, taking the first and then serving out to clinch the opening set.
Murray tried to step inside the baseline to rush his opponent into errors but Djokovic was unflappable and again it was a Murray mistake, this time a netted drive volley, that cost him dear as Djokovic took a second break to lead 3-2.
The top seed was comfortable on his serve and ruthless with his return, piling the pressure on the Murray second serve at every opportunity.
Murray saved two more break points in the seventh game but he could not rescue the ninth as a wild smash long underlined his frustration and, at that stage, his opponent’s superiority.
Dominant, Djokovic began to enjoy himself, with one angled backhand volley in particular sparking an otherwise docile French crowd into rapture.
Murray, however, refused to be toyed with and at 5-5 he suddenly swung the momentum back in his favour with two scintillating winners, accompanied by beckoning gestures to the crowd.
His adrenaline still pumping, Murray took the break and then claimed the set, which was the first Djokovic had conceded all tournament.
The stadium was rocking but Djokovic halted Murray’s charge with a seven-minute medical time-out, called to attend to a troublesome hip.
Murray, however, would not be deterred. He won 10 points in a row, saving three break points and then breaking Djokovic to love to lead 3-2.
Just as the tide seemed fully to have turned, Djokovic broke back immediately, via another missed smash from Murray, to leave the match in the balance when the umpire called time.
Wawrinka is one win away from a second Grand Slam title after the Swiss sealed his place in the n final with a gutsy victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Tsonga dominated large spells of the contest on Philippe Chatrier but was made to rue 16 missed break points as Wawrinka came through 6-3 6-7 (1/7) 7-6 (7/3) 6-4.
It means France’s 32-year wait for a home male champion at Roland Garros continues.
“It is a great feeling to play in another Grand Slam final,” Wawrinka said.
“It was a tough match physically, the match could have been gone either way.
“Jo had many opportunities to break me in the third. Against Jo it’s always a tough match, a tough battle, especially at Roland Garros.
“He played a great tournament here, he deserved to be in the final like me but I’m very happy I won today.”
Walking out in sweltering heat, Tsonga cast a few quizzical glances around a half-empty stadium but the Frenchman made a bright start as he earned three break points in the opening game.
Wawrinka though survived on each occasion and instead it was the Swiss who broke first, unleashing a superb backhand winner to move 3-1 ahead.
Tsonga struggled to cope with his opponent’s weight of shot, which was particularly punishing on his second serve, and while the Frenchman had a fourth chance to break back in game seven, Wawrinka held on and served out the set.
There was worse to come for Tsonga in the opening game of the second set, as a double fault and then a forehand into the net gifted Wawrinka the upper-hand again.
Second-best from the back, Tsonga went for the jugular, shortening the points with blistering forehands and regular moves to the net, and the strategy worked as he broke back to level at 4-4.
Unforced errors gifted Wawrinka five chances to break again at 5-5 but each time a potent first serve saved Tsonga, before he blitzed the tie-break to go one-set all.
Aided by a rejuvenated home crowd, Tsonga’s gunning forehand continued to fire but his domination never extended to the decisive moments as Wawrinka, who had taken treatment for blisters, saved six break points in four games.
The missed opportunities would cost Tsonga dear, as his opponent kept his best form for the tie-break, which he won at a canter to restore his lead.
The setback seemed to sap the energy from Tsonga’s legs and Wawrinka broke again in the first game of the second before surviving two more break points to hold for 2-0.
The Frenchman’s profligacy continued right to the end as four more break points came and went, leaving Wawrinka to serve out the match at 5-4.
There was to be no fairytale comeback for Tsonga, who put a limp forehand into the net to confirm victory and a place in the final for Wawrinka in three hours and 46 minutes.