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Murray's fightback hit by storms

By Tom Allnutt

Andy Murray will have to continue his fightback from two sets down against Novak Djokovic today after their French Open semi-final was suspended with a storm in the air at Roland Garros.

Murray clawed back the third set in an enthralling contest in Paris before the match was halted with the Scot trailing 3-6 3-6 7-5 3-3.

The bad weather meant Murray and Djokovic were told they would resume play at noon today as they look to book a meeting with Switzerland's Stan Wawrinka in tomorrow's final.

Djokovic has beaten Murray in each of their last seven meetings and the world No 1 looked certain to make it eight when he raced through two comfortable opening sets.

Murray, however, defied the odds, producing some brilliant tennis to clinch the third, and at the time of suspension it was arguably the Briton who was in the ascendancy.

Neither player will be happy with the extension given the additional rest Wawrinka now takes into the final, but Djokovic will at least be grateful for the chance to take stock.

Murray has never beaten Djokovic after losing the opening set and the Scot laid down a marker in the first game with a brilliant cross-court forehand winner.

The Serbian offered Murray some encouragement, not through his shot-making, but his body language, as he seemed to signal he was dizzy in the sweltering heat and unable to see clearly.

A doctor was called for the change of ends but mysteriously sent away again, in echoes of the final in Melbourne when an injured Djokovic looked on the brink of collapse only to come storming back.

His recovery was swift again as Murray wafted a simple short forehand wide to give the world number one three break points at 4-3, and he showed no mercy, taking the first and then serving out to clinch the opening set.

Murray tried to step inside the baseline to rush his opponent into errors but Djokovic was unflappable and again it was a Murray mistake, this time a netted drive volley, that cost him dear as Djokovic took a second break to lead 3-2.

The top seed was comfortable on his serve and ruthless with his return, piling the pressure on the Murray second serve at every opportunity.

Murray saved two more break points in the seventh game but he could not rescue the ninth as a wild smash long underlined his frustration and, at that stage, his opponent's superiority.

Dominant, Djokovic began to enjoy himself, with one angled backhand volley in particular sparking an otherwise docile French crowd into rapture.

The determined Murray, however, refused to be toyed with and at 5-5 he suddenly swung the momentum back in his favour with two scintillating winners, accompanied by beckoning gestures to the crowd.

His adrenaline still pumping, Murray took the break and then claimed the set, which was the first Djokovic had conceded all tournament.

The stadium was rocking but Djokovic halted Murray's charge with a seven-minute medical time-out, called to attend to a troublesome hip.

The fourth set was compelling with both players breaking the other's serve.

It was 3-3 with all to play for when a French Open official intervened to stop play for the day with a storm on the way.

Waiting in the final is Wawrinka, who is now just one win away from a second grand slam title after a semi-final victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Tsonga dominated large spells of the contest but was made to rue 16 missed break points as Wawrinka came through 6-3 6-7 (1/7) 7-6 (7/3) 6-4.

It means France's 32-year wait for a home male champion at Roland Garros continues.

Wawrinka said: "It is a great feeling to play in another grand slam final. It was a tough match physically, the match could have been gone either way.

"Jo had many opportunities to break me in the third. Against Jo it's always a tough match, a tough battle, especially at Roland Garros.

"He played a great tournament here, he deserved to be in the final like me but I'm very happy I won."

Walking out in sweltering heat, Tsonga cast a few quizzical glances around a half-empty stadium but the Frenchman made a bright start as he earned three break points in the opening game.

Wawrinka though survived on each occasion and instead it was the Swiss who broke first, unleashing a superb backhand winner to move 3-1 ahead. He controlled the opening set, winning it 6-3.

Tsonga fought back well in the second set to win it on a tie break, but Wawrinka would not be denieed in front of the French crowd.

He showed his class to come through close third and fourth sets and will be confident about tomorrow's final.

Belfast Telegraph


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