Having made the last two finals of the clay Masters 1000 events, going 1-1 with Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray should be full of confidence going into his semi final clash with Stan Wawrinka but struggles on his way to this stage have tempered expectations a bit for the World No.2. See all of their previous matches and stats here.
The first two rounds saw Murray go five sets against two players of varying experience but both of them were outside the top 100. Radek Stepanek took a 2 set lead in a match played over two days before falling to defeat 7-5 in the decider while wildcard Mathias Bourgue led two sets to one after being down a set and a break earier on. It was much easier in the next two rounds with two big servers in John Isner and Ivo Karlovic suiting Murray’s excellent return game down to a tee and both were dispatched in straight sets.
Murray was in control for long parts of his quarter final clash with Richard Gasquet and should have won in sets were it not for a blip at the end of set one, which he lost from 5-3 up. Wawrinka also had an opening round scare against Lukas Rosol but had it fairly easy otherwise on his run to this stage of the tournament.
Murray’s slam wins convinced many in the tennis world that there was a Big Four as opposed to a Big Three but he has made just two finals in ten attempts since winning Wimbledon in 2013. Meanwhile, Wawrinka has won two slams in that time and is often considered the player with the best chance to defeat Djokovic at the hard court and clay slams after their numerous classic encounters in the past few years in the best of five format.
While both players will be a big underdog if Djokovic wins the other semi final as expected, they will each have a reason to go into the match full of confidence. Wawrinka’s aforementioned victories against Djokovic, including last year’s final win remind people how dangerous he will be while Murray’s Masters 1000 results on clay – especially winning in Rome against Djokovic – show the improvements he has made on the clay over the years.
Wawrinka has won the last three encounters but only one of them has been in the last two years suggesting there isn’t a great deal to take from the 8-7 head to head lead that Murray currently has. While the forecast is expected to be dry, the conditions may still be far from great which means Wawrinka should have more success hitting through the court of the two players. However, he doesn’t look to be playing at the level of last year and Murray must take advantage of the down periods in the Swiss’ game as previous opponents failed to do for the most part.
While the other semi final looks somewhat of a procession, this could be a classic if both players bring their A-game and it wouldn’t be a great surprise if this were to go the distance on Court Philippe Chatrier.
Prediction – Andy Murray in five sets
Check out our Djokovic vs Thiem semis preview and prediction.