Novak Djokovic tops Andy Murray in 5 sets to reach French Open final
Paris: Moving within one victory of completing a career Grand Slam, Novak Djokovic reached the French Open final by getting past Andy Murray 6-3, 6-3, 5-7, 5-7, 6-1 on Saturday in the resumption of a suspended match.
The semifinal was halted at 3-all in the fourth set Friday night because of an incoming storm. Murray grabbed that set when they returned to the court, but Djokovic was superb in the fifth, and Saturday's play took 61 minutes.
Djokovic said he played with "the right intensity" in the first two sets Friday, then needed to recover after "Andy found his confidence."
Djokovic already owns eight major titles, but none from Roland Garros, where he lost the 2012 and 2014 finals to Rafael Nadal, the nine-time champion he eliminated in this year's quarterfinals.
The top-seeded Djokovic stretched his winning streak to 28 matches by beating No. 3 Murray, a two-time major champion who had won his past 15 matches, all on clay.
In Sunday's final, Djokovic will face No. 8 Stan Wawrinka with a chance to become only the eighth man in tennis history to own at least one trophy from each of the sport's four most prestigious tournaments, adding to the five he already owns from the Australian Open, two from Wimbledon and one from the U.S. Open.
Beat Wawrinka, and Djokovic also would be the first man since Jim Courier in 1992 to win the Australian Open and French Open consecutively, putting him halfway to the first calendar-year Grand Slam in 46 years.
Wawrinka finished his semifinal victory over 14th-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, as scheduled, on Friday, and so was able to enjoy a less-stressful Saturday than Djokovic. In 2014, Wawrinka won his first major title at the Australian Open, then showed up in Paris and promptly lost in the first round.
Now he'll make his French Open final debut against Djokovic.
Djokovic and Murray stepped out on Court Philippe Chatrier at precisely 1 p.m. local time, a little more than 16 hours after they departed under a threatening sky. Shortly following the suspension, a brief rainstorm arrived.
On Saturday, the sky was a crystal blue, uninterrupted by a trace of cloud, the sun shining, the temperature at a perfect-for-tennis 70 degrees (20 Celsius) or so.
After 10 minutes of action, and a combined trio of holds at love by the two men, it was 5-4 for Djokovic, putting him one game away. Sounds like a little. Turned out he would need to wait.
Murray held to 5-all, then suddenly broke for a 6-5 lead. One point contained 33 strokes, most magnificent, none more so than Murray's drop shot that won it when Djokovic's hustling reply landed in the net. Murray then added a running cross-court backhand passing shot, and when Djokovic contributed a couple of flubbed forehands, the set was over, 25 minutes after Saturday's initial point was contested.
So dominant all season, so nearly perfect while taking the first 17 sets he played the past two weeks, Djokovic now found himself on the brink against Murray, who was shaking his fist while looking into the stands, riling up himself and sympathetic spectators.
There was no wilt from Djokovic, though. He'd come so far, thought about this tournament so much, that if he could possibly play better, possibly find a way to handle Murray's indefatigable defense, he would.
And Djokovic did. He cleaned up his game, while Murray blinked a bit, committing a series of errors to allow Djokovic to break for a 2-0 lead in the fifth set.
Murray was attempting to become the first British man since Bunny Austin in 1937 to reach the French final. Murray knows all about such history-making, having ended Britain's 77-year wait for a male champion at Wimbledon by defeating Djokovic in the 2013 final at the All England Club.
That is the only time in their past 12 matches that Murray won.
The 2015 edition of Djokovic, though, is nearly unbeaten and, seemingly, close to unbeatable.
The 28-year-old Serb, who got married and had a child last year, has spoken about being content off the court and supremely confident on it. Who would argue? He is 41-2 this season with five titles.
"He is a machine," Wawrinka said.