Spain's Rafael Nadal clenches his fist in victory after defeating Austria's Dominic Thiem during their semifinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium, Friday, June 9, 2017 in Paris.
It wasn't flawless but as Rafael Nadal trounced Dominic Thiem on Friday night to reach his 10th French Open final, there was definitely an element of master against pupil as the man who would be clay-court king was crushed for the loss of seven games by the man who has worn the crown for more than a decade. "I was one tiebreak away from getting to the final", said the Scot, who was runner-up to Novak Djokovic previous year.
A pair of former French Open champions will meet in the men's singles final at Roland Garros on Sunday when fourth-seeded Rafael Nadal and No. 3 Stan Wawrinka lock horns.
"To play Rafa on clay in the French Open in a final is probably the biggest challenge you can have in tennis", Wawrinka said.
"I ve played a very good event, played well in all the matches and today was no exception", said Nadal, who has lost just 29 games in reaching Sunday s championship match. So a lot of the points he was dictating from the middle of the court, and I was sort of, retrieving and allowing him to pretty much hit the shots that he wants.
Getting to No. 10 would make Nadal the first player in the Open Era to win the same grand slam 10 times.
No. 3 Wawrinka will now face Rafael Nadal, who holds a 78-2 record in this tournament, in the finals. It is more like I didn't have enough weight on my shot at the end of the match to put him under any real pressure.
At 32 years 75 days, Wawrinka is the oldest man to reach the Paris final since Niki Pilic finished runner-up aged 33 years 280 days in 1973.
"It's true I have been playing a great event, but Stan is playing unbelievable".
"Of course I'm disappointed that, first of all, I just didn't play the way I can play". I started a little bit more nervous today than normal, but then I played well.
"He played too well in the end", said the 30-year-old world number one.
Wawrinka had a letdown right then, though, wasting his chance to win the set by dumping a backhand into the net. Most notable was Wawrinka's 87 winners to 77 unforced errors, in comparison to Murray's 36 winners to an equal 36 unforced errors.
Great Britain's Alfie Hewett will play in two wheelchair finals at the French Open.
In a match that was always going to be a tussle between Wawrinka's brilliance and Murray's resilience, it was the Swiss who drew first blood in the first set, breaking Murray in the eighth game for a 5-3 lead.
By the anticlimactic close of what Murray termed "a very high-intensity match", he was complaining aloud about having "no legs".
"He was very aggressive, and he never really let me install my game". After all, the duo tallied the most victories on clay this season and Thiem is one of the rare players to have toppled the Spaniard twice on dirt.