Djokovic victorious in drawn-out battle

World number one downs defiant Murray in gruelling five-setter at French Open

Afp June 06, 2015
Djokovic will be confident of winning his ninth Grand Slam on Sunday. PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS: Novak Djokovic beat battling Andy Murray 6-3, 6-3, 5-7, 5-7, 6-1 on Saturday to reach his third French Open final and stand on the cusp of a career Grand Slam.

The world number one, who knocked out nine-time champion Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals, goes on to face eighth-seeded Swiss Stan Wawrinka in Sunday’s title match.

After their thrilling semi-final was halted due to a storm at 3-3 in the fourth set on Friday, Murray levelled the contest at two sets apiece.

But the Serb rallied in the decider to wrap up his eighth successive win over his fellow 28-year-old, who he had also beaten in January’s Australian Open final.

Victory on Sunday would make Djokovic only the eighth man to win all four majors and put him halfway to a rare calendar Grand Slam, a feat achieved by just two men, most recently by Australian great Rod Laver back in 1969.

“This is one of the toughest matches we have had, no doubt about that,” said Djokovic. “Five sets over four hours. It’s always demanding from every aspect of the game because we have similar styles of play. We tend to run each other around and play a cat and mouse game, and it’s tiring.  It’s exhausting to play him.”

Sunday will be eight-time major winner Djokovic’s 16th Grand Slam final and he will start as overwhelming favourite, having beaten Wawrinka 17 times in 20 meetings.

For Murray, it was a third semi-final loss at Roland Garros, meaning Britain’s wait for a first men’s finalist since Bunny Austin in 1937 goes on.

“In the fifth set, he was hitting the ball very close to the line, so I ended up doing a lot of defending,” admitted Murray. “I felt like I ended up putting up like six or seven lobs just because he was hitting the ball very close to the line.”

Published in The Express Tribune, June 7th, 2015.

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