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French Open 2015 Day 13: Murray hauls back Djokovic

Andy Murray celebrates on Centre Court
by Alex Sharp
Friday 5 June 2015

Wimbledon.com's highlights from the thirteenth day of the 2015 French Open at Roland Garros with a dramatic tale of events in the men's semi-finals.

Storm halts titanic battle

The semi-final of epic proportions between world No.1 and Andy Murray had a lot to live up to and two gladiators of the game certainly lived up to their billing.

The history was laced through their previous 26 meetings with Djokovic leading on their head-to-head at 18-8 and significantly had won the last seven in a row.

Both players are unbeaten on clay thus far this season and in the opening exchanges you could clearly see why.

The rallies were relentless and physically demanding as they pulled each other to every corner of the court.

At 4-3 down Murray let his phenomenal level slip to hand an imperious Djokovic three break points. During a set of such fine margins they proved costly as the clinical Serb secured the break and served out the opener with a couple of scintillating forehand winners.

For the statisticians out there, Murray has never won from a set behind against Djokovic and his chances seemed to diminish even further when a simple drive volley crashed into the net to see the world No.1 head to a 3-2 advantage.

Djokovic was in supreme form and although Murray was providing a stern workout, the top seed managed to break for a two sets lead having coaxed the Scot into a series of unforced errors.

A place in the final was slipping from Murray’s grasp until they hit 5-5 in the third.

A brutal point was finished by a jaw-dropping forehand pass from Murray having chased back a Djokovic lob to hit the shot mid-spin.

That catalysed Murray’s revival as the Scot fired up the crowd and from nowhere secured his first break points of the match after chasing down a drop shot.

In a miraculous turn around, Murray surged to 15 of the last 20 points to serve out the set and prolong this magnificent contest.

The forecasted clouds of a storm were brewing and the light was fading fast but the quality still lit up Philippe Chatrier.

Following a routine Djokovic hold, Murray slumped to 0-40. However the fired up British No.1 found some inspired tennis to restore parity to win eight points in a row and break his infuriated opponent to lead 2-1.

Once again momentum swayed following a netted smash from Murray and Djokovic reclaimed his composure to move back 3-2 in front.

Murray was in trouble once again thanks to an outrageous winner from Djokovic and found the wrong side of the line with an aggressive forehand. Some steady serving clawed back the break points to leave the scores tied at three a piece.

Then came the jeers from the enthralled crowd as play was halted due a fast approaching storm and faded light. Finely poised, this breathtaking encounter heads into a second day on Saturday before the Women’s singles final.

Stan is the man again

Earlier on Philippe Chatrier home hopeful Jo Wilfried-Tsonga and Stan Wawrinka were forced to play in sweltering conditions at over 30c.

Neither player had reached the final at Roland Garros but it was Roger Federer’s conqueror Wawrinka who took the initiative.

Despite being two break points down in his opener game, the Swiss controlled the opener with a pensive Tsonga failing to find the form he has illustrated all fortnight.

Wawrinka broke in game four to lead 3-1 due to a series of relentless backhands and smart net play. The Frenchman squandered break points in game seven which the Swiss dismissed with a duo of aces and grasped the opener 6-3 with very little resistance.

Netted approaches shots and a double fault gifted Wawrinka an easy break to begin the second set as Chatrier fell eerily quiet.

There was a sense that Tsonga was simply holding on but the 2014 Australian Open champion let the Frenchman back in with his own error-strewn game at 4-3.

Back on serve the gruelling rallies took their toll on the players, who were gasping for air at times. However Tsonga had more conviction in his shots and found more break points at his disposal but once again Wawrinka survived.

A tie-break was the only answer and a rejuvenated Tsonga outmuscled Wawrinka to level up.

Tsonga had the crowd bouncing with a sublime flicked backhand cross-court passing shot at the start of set three but he still failed to capitalise upon numerous break point chances again.

The on court microphone caught him saying “Calm down, calm down, life is beautiful,” but as the third set slipped into a tie-break his tranquillity was broken.

A routine smash was netted and then a succession of unforced errors gifted Wawrinka the set as he edged closer to a maiden Roland Garros final.

Heading into the fourth Wawrinka decided to pounce and approached the net more regularly. His aggressive outlook worked as a forlorn Tsonga could not muster another revival and Wawrinka edged ahead 3-1, before serving out to book his place in Sunday’s showpiece

The Frenchman ended on one out of 17 converted break points which emphasises a huge opportunity missed but Wawrinka was a deserved victor with 60 winners in total, playing some expansive tennis and saw him take 22 of 30 net points.

 “Today it was tough battle.  Jo is always a tough player to play, especially when he's playing at home here in Paris.  The match could have gone his way so I’m really happy and proud the way I stayed mentally,” said the Swiss.

“Even when I was really nervous in the third and fourth set, I stayed calm and was focused on my game plan.  And that's it.  I'm really happy and enjoying that moment so far before thinking about the final,” added Wawrinka.

“I tried to give my best, so I don't have a lot of regrets.  I should have seized some opportunities; had some break point opportunities but I didn't convert them. I didn't seize the opportunities.  So I lost, and that's logical.  That's it,” said Tsonga.

The Frenchman positively reflected on his work in Paris, “I'm in a hurry to start the rest of the season.  I'm not going to stop now. “

The end score: 6-4, 6-7(1), 7-6(3), 6-4

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