June 2, 2015
The poetic power of Stan Wawrinka was too much for Roger Federer, whose best tennis seemed to be carried away on a forceful Parisian wind.
‘I’ve beaten a friend,’ said Wawrinka, a poignant remark given their relatively recent falling out.
Federer, the world’s favourite player will now start looking forward to Wimbledon, his best chance of adding to those incredible seventeen Slams.
Fearless Wawrinka attacked Federer’s serve almost from the start, and broke so comprehensively at the second attempt that you wondered where his unshakable confidence was coming from.
It was the first time he had beaten Roger in a Slam, though we sensed it had to happen some time. Now that he is in his first French Open semi-final, there is no reason why Wawrinka can’t go all the way to the final.
Single-handed backhands, crushingly accurate forehands, snappy serves with an impudent, often-unstoppable zip; Stan the Man brought it all to the party, and led Federer to the reluctant realisation that he was going to have to go home early.
The 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (4) scoreline was no more than Wawrinka deserved on a day when everything clicked into place. Disappointingly, the Parisian crowd booed him for his excellence, as though it was Stan’s fault there had been some controversial line calls when it came to the breaker-crunch.
For the ever-popular Roger, the previous day’s exertions against Gael Monfils may have taken their toll.
Wawrinka, who had an extra day’s rest, took full advantage of his superior energy levels to dismantle his Swiss rival. Anticipation helped too. He has studied his masterful compatriot for at least a decade and often seemed to know exactly where the ball would arrive.
It was usually returned with an almost disdainful interest, despite the massive respect Wawrinka has for a tennis legend, a much-loved sporting star who can still be unbelievable on his day.
Some will be tempted to conclude that Federer’s wife Mirka, and the way she allegedly taunted Wawrinka in London at the end of last year, might have been at the back of the winner’s mind as he put his more fancied rival to the sword.
However, most of those in the know seem to believe those tensions have been resolved behind the scenes. And besides, no dubious gamesmanship from beyond the court could have altered the course of events at Roland Garros.
Unusually for Federer, he never did quite work out how to handle the wind, let alone the storm on the other side of the net. The French crowd seemed genuinely shocked at what they were witnessing, and fell silent for long periods.
Unwilling to quietly, Federer offered more considerable resistance in the third set, especially as Wawrinka tightened with the finishing tape in sight.
And so it came to a tie-break, won 7-4 by Wawrinka, who said: ‘It was terrific for me but I have beaten a friend, which is hard because he has given me so much over the years. Things are incredible for me at the moment.’
Earlier Ana Ivanovic beat Elina Svetolina 6-3, 6-2 to reach the French Open semi-finals, while Lucie Safarova defeated Garbine Muguruza 7-6 (7-3), 6-3.