Paris: Strong title contender Rafael Nadal and Swiss star Stan Wawrinka won their respective semi-finals in contrasting fashion to enter the men’s singles final at the French Open tennis tournament here.
Nadal rode on his unstoppable run in his quest for his 10th success at Roland Garros as he beat promising Austrian star Dominic Thiem in straight sets in the semi-finals, reports Xinhua news agency.
Wawrinka had to work hard for the other final spot, edging out top seed Andy Murray in a five-set thriller.
Nadal managed to keep his record of not losing a set en route to the final intact after sweeping Thiem 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 in two hours and seven minutes.
The “King of Clay” showed his dominance throughout the match and sealed the win after Thiem dumped a forehand return into the net.
The Spanish star bettered his Austrian opponent in winning percentage on first and second serves, also on receiving points. He made his 10th final appearance at Roland Garros, with the nine previous all turning out into the trophy.
“I played a very good event, and today was not an exception. I started a little bit more nervous today, it was normal, but then I played well,” Nadal said.
The duration of the contest between the third seed Wawrinka and World No.1 Murray more than doubled that, finishing in a thrilling manner as Wawrinka won 6-7 (6), 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (3), 6-1 after four hours and 34 minutes.
“When you play a player like Murray, you know that you can dominate the games, but he’s still going to be there,” Wawrinka commented.
“He’s still going to do incredible defence, play the right tennis at the right moment. That’s why he’s No. 1 in the world,” he added.
Wawrinka finished a total of 87 winners, also suffering 77 unforced errors, with 36-36 for Murray.
After the two players were forced into a decider, Wawrinka geared up for five games in a row. Murray won the only game in the sixth, before Wawrinka sealed the final spot with his signature backhand attack.
Nadal has a head-to-head advantage at 15-3, including 5-1 on clay, against Wawrinka.
“Now I have one match remaining against a very tough opponent. He played a very tough match this afternoon, so he will be full of confidence for Sunday,” Nadal said.
“I need to play aggressive, play long and try to not let him play from easy positions. If it’s not the case, I will be in big trouble. That’s my goal,” he added.
Meanwhile, Ryan Harrison and Michael Venus booked their spots in the men’s doubles final with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over the Colombian duo of Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah.
Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua cruised through the women’s doubles semi-finals to set up a final clash with the 2017 Australian Open champions Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova.
China’s Wang Xiyu and her Japanese partner Ayumi Miyamoto failed to make it into the girls’ doubles final as they lost to the Russian duo of Olesya Pervushina and Anastasia Potapova 10-6 in the tie-break.