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Murray proud of his efforts after tasting French agony

By Eleanor Crooks

Andy Murray was proud of his French Open campaign after falling short against Stan Wawrinka in a brutal semi-final battle.

Murray ended Wawrinka's reign as champion in the semi-finals 12 months ago, but could not engineer a repeat as the Swiss triumphed 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 5-7 7-6 (7-3) 6-1 after four hours and 34 minutes.

It was a rollercoaster of a match, with Murray second best for most of the first three sets but somehow emerging two sets to one in front. He then looked in control of the fourth but it was Wawrinka who dominated the tie-break, and by the decider Murray had nothing left.

Wawrinka, who has won all his previous three Grand Slam finals, will face Rafael Nadal tomorrow.

Having arrived in Paris with only four wins since February, and unsure even whether he would survive one match, Murray could not be too unhappy with his loss.

He said: "I'm proud of the tournament I had. I did well considering. I was one tie-break away from getting to the final when I came in really struggling, so I have to be proud of that.

"Maybe the lack of matches hurt me a little bit in the end. That was a very high-intensity match, a lot of long points.

"When you haven't been playing loads, that can catch up to you a little bit. I only have myself to blame for the way I played coming into the tournament.

"But I turned my form around really, really well and ended up having a good tournament."

Murray is still not quite at the same level as last year when he played probably his best clay-court match to defeat Wawrinka and then went on to dominate the second half of the season.

He was unable to take the match to his opponent in the same way and for most of the contest it was attack against defence.

But what attack and what defence. Wawrinka smashed 87 winners, mostly off his forehand before the backhand joined the party in the second set.

Murray said: "I lost a little bit of speed on my serve, which wasn't allowing me to dictate many points. He obviously hit some greats shots in the fifth but I didn't keep the score close to put him under pressure.

"Physically I didn't feel my best at the end. I didn't have enough weight on my shot."

Wawrinka will face Nadal in the final, with the Spaniard one win away from an unprecedented 10th title at the French Open after dominating his semi-final against Dominic Thiem.

Thiem went in fresh from his stunning upset of defending champion Novak Djokovic and looking for a second successive win against Nadal.

But Philippe Chatrier is the Spaniard's stage and Thiem found Nadal a very different opponent to the one he met at the Italian Open in Rome.

Nadal was simply far too good and heads into the final having not dropped a set in the tournament after a 6-3 6-4 6-0 victory.

The pair did not begin their match until after 6pm after Wawrinka's epic five-set victory.

There had been speculation about whether they would be able to finish yesterday but that did not prove to be a problem.

After reaching the semis last year, Thiem has really come of age this season. The 23-year-old Austrian had also reached the last four without dropping a set and immediately broke serve.

That was to be the only time he was ahead. Nadal reeled off four straight games, soaking up Thiem's power and returning it with interest. Time and again Thiem threw everything at Nadal but there was no way past.

Thiem did well to stay as close as he did in the first and second sets, but by the third Nadal was completely unstoppable.

The 31-year-old has lost just 29 games in six matches, one fewer than the Open era record held by Bjorn Borg in 1978.

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