Novak Djokovic defeated Andy Murray 6-3, 6-3, 5-7, 5-7, 6-1 in 4 hours, 9 minutes and gets into his third Roland Garros final.
After leading by two-sets-to-love against Murray, Djokovic nearly let the opportunity slip this year.
“He showed why he’s one of the biggest competitors and fighters on the tour,” Djokovic said of Murray. “Was really tough match, over four hours all together, yesterday and today. No different from any other match that we played against each other. It’s always a thriller, always a marathon. I’m very glad that I managed to finish this match as a winner. I was hoping I can do it before, but, again, I don’t think I have done too much wrong, even today in the fourth. He just came up with some great shots, great points.”
The night before, Andy had stormed back into contention before an atmospheric crowd under turbulent skies, pushing the match into a fourth set and going toe-to-toe with the favourite before approaching storms halted the match at 3-3.
When players returned to Philippe-Chatrier Court on a sunny Saturday, Djokovic seemed to have calmed himself and re-focused, holding to love in the first game on resumption and pushed ahead 4-3. It was quite a routine affair in the early stages – it took until the fourth game of play before the receiver won a point.
That was Djokovic, but Murray went on to hold for 5-5, and lifted his level in the 11th game; he came out on top of a magnificent 32-stroke, backhand-to-backhand rally, and the errors that followed from the Serb handed Murray a break. The third seed converted this in the next game to close out the set.
After the first two sets on Friday it had been somewhat unthinkable, but this match was going the distance.
Having overcome the monumental hurdle of nine-time champion Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals, this tournament had become Djokovic’s to lose. No doubt aware of this, he responded in turn, adding some bite and pace to his shots and refusing to simply rally with Murray, who was no longer coughing up the same volume of errors as he had been the previous day.
“I tried to keep my calm. I knew that I’m going to have my chances. I’m going to have my chances in the fifth. I just need to keep on believing, keep on working, and I played a great set,” Djokovic said.
Faced with a heavier ball, Murray erred, sending three shots long over the baseline in the second game of the fifth and then another into the net fall behind 2-0. Djokovic made it 3-0 with more forcing play. Murray got on the board in the fourth game but was powerless to stop Djokovic’s increasing momentum; the Serb continued to hit out, knocking off forehand and overhead winners to move ahead 4-1, and from 30-0 down in the sixth game forcing more Murray errors before nailing an off-forehand winner for 5-1. Two sneaky drop shots in the final game drew errors from Murray, and when Djokovic arrived at his second match point, he booked his place in the final with an ace.
Djokovic extended his own clay-court winning streak to 16 matches, and took his overall winning streak (on any surface) to a remarkable 28.
Nole will play the final vs Wawrinka on Sunday at 15hs CET: “It wasn’t physically easy match, that’s for sure, but I think I will be fine for the finals”. “Whatever I have left in me I will put out on the court tomorrow, and hopefully it can be enough.”