Grand Slam champions face off in a fateful first-round French Open rematch as Andy Murray takes on Stan Wawrinka. Murray…
Grand Slam champions face off in a fateful first-round French Open rematch as Andy Murray takes on Stan Wawrinka.
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Murray vs Wawrinka is live from Roland Garros on Sunday 27 September, time TBC
Returning to the French Open for the first time since 2017, Andy Murray finds himself facing exactly the same opponent: Stan Wawrinka, who beat him in a four-hour, 34-minute semifinal which pushed both men beyond their limits.
Murray has not played a match on clay since that fateful semifinal, and has played just five matches in 2020, while Wawrinka has been searching for form at Challenger level. Could Murray possibly turn the clock back on Sunday?
Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.
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Murray vs Wawrinka: Head-to-head
Andy Murray leads the head-to-head with Stan Wawrinka 12-8. He has also won four of the last five matches against the Swiss, including a French Open clash in 2016 and their most recent encounter, in the Antwerp final last autumn.
Wawrinka has an overall 4-1 advantage in clay-court matches.
Murray vs Wawrinka: Preview
The tennis gods have a twisted sense of humour – that’s the only explanation for a French Open draw which pits four of the six Grand Slam champions in the men’s draw against each other in the first round. That Andy Murray should have drawn Stan Wawrinka in a rematch of the 2017 semifinal which arguably changed both men’s careers forever, on the British player’s first return to Roland Garros since that match, almost beggars belief.
Wawrinka won that four-hour, 34-minute encounter, lost to Rafael Nadal in straight sets in the final and managed two more matches in 2017 before shutting down his season to undergo multiple knee surgeries; Murray limped to the quarterfinals of Wimbledon, then shut down his season, eventually almost retiring at the 2019 Australian Open before underdoing hip resurfacing surgery.
It’s the Swiss man who has returned to something like his old form and ranking; he’s made the quarterfinals of three of the past four majors, including last year’s French Open and the Australian Open in January, and is currently ranked world no. 17, while Murray only made his return to Grand Slam tennis at the US Open, beating Yoshihito Nishioka in five sets and having precisely zero energy left with which to avoid being soundly defeated by Felix Auger-Aliassime.
And yet Murray has won the two most recent matches these two have played – 6-1, 6-3 in Eastbourne in 2018, and 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in Antwerp last autumn, when he came back from a set and a break down to steal victory from under Wawrinka’s nose.
Wawrinka decided to skip the US swing, playing back-to-back Challengers in Prague instead. He won the first and reached the quarterfinals of the second before pulling out, but his level of tennis was not exactly convincing (he was pushed to three sets by five players ranked outside the top 100) and his only ATP Tour-level match was an 0-6, 6-7(2) defeat to Lorenzo Musetti at the Rome Masters.
It’s not too encouraging, but Wawrinka does reliably find his best tennis at Grand Slams, and he is playing a man with a metal hip. Moreover, the Swiss player can hit his way through slow, cold conditions – he has that kind of power, although his spin won’t be as brutal as it usually is – and he always was a better clay-court than Murray. I think Murray will take a set, but this reunion should end the same way the 2017 semifinal did – with Wawrinka triumphant.