French Open 2016: Andy Murray vs. Stan Wawrinka Semifinal Prediction

Is Gasquet good sparring ahead of Wawrinka?

Andy Murray vs. Stan Wawrinka

Stan Wawrinka may say that he is not in Andy Murray’s class.  He has fewer Masters 1000 titles and fewer Grand Slam final round appearances.  However, Wawrinka, like Murray, has 2 Grand Slam singles titles, an olympic gold medal (Stan’s is in doubles rather than singles), and has been part of a Davis Cup winning team.  If Stan were to successfully defend his Roland Garros title and hold 3 major titles, he could be argued to have had a better career to this point than Andy Murray.  It would not be clear cut, but total major titles is a big deal.  Therefore, from a historical standpoint, I would not say Stan is completely outclassed by Andy Murray.  Both players are still active and have a long way to go before their careers are measured against everyone who has retired from tennis.

The conditions have been pretty heavy in Paris again this year.  That is to Stan’s liking. Also, Stan and Andy each entered Roland Garros winning their most recent clay court event.  No one is going to argue that Geneva is as big as Rome, but Stan winning on Swiss soil heading into Paris didn’t hurt his confidence.  Psychologically, I think each man has to feel quite good about his chances in this match and winning the big trophy on Sunday.

Keys to the Match?

I think Andy Murray has to be sure to hit quality second serves and hit his forehand with enough authority as to not be victimized in terms of court positioning.  If the conditions are heavy enough for Stan to line up his shots, Andy could get pushed around by the powerful Swiss.

Stan has to be sure he takes care of his service games.  Andy Murray’s return of serve is sublime and being broken is never a roadmap for success on tour.  Stan also has to keep his error count down as he will likely be dictating play more often than the Scot.

Head-to-Head Clues?

Murray leads their head-to-head 8-7.  This may be good news for Murray’s backers, but Stan has won their 3 most recent matches.  Stan is also 2-0 in their career meetings on clay.  None of their clay court clashes were particularly recent, and Andy Murray is arguably playing the best clay court tennis of his career in 2016.

A Winner?

I went into this review expecting to pick Murray in 4 sets.  There are good reasons to think he takes this match.  However, the more I have reflected on the dynamics, I think Stan’s powerful shot production means he will dictate play.  Given that Wawrinka is riding a winning streak and is deep into a tournament, I think a confident player dictating play is typically in the driver’s seat of a match.  I think Murray’s forehand and second serve will be just passive enough to give Wawrinka the opening he needs.

My Prediction: Stan Wawrinka d. Andy Murray 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5


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