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Five things we learned on Day 13 of Roland Garros - Wawrinka says he can dig in and grind. And that could be useful as playing Nadal is like root canal treament.
Rafael Nadal saves organisers blushes with his ultra quick dismissal of Dominic Thiem while Stan Wawrinka will get a chance to flex his muscles and bare his teeth in the men's final against a rampant Rafa.
1.The schedulers are lucky
The first of the men’s semi finals got underway at just after 1pm. After two hours and 29 minutes it was 4-2 to Stan wawrinka in the third set. Andy Murray had won the first 7-6 after 63 minutes. These two were in for the afternoon. It was 5-5 in the fourth after three hours and 45. Fortunately Stan wrapped up the fifth 6-1 and it was all over in four hours and 34 minutes. In the second semi-final Rafael Nadal gave the impression that, as nine time champion, he had been insulted by being scheduled second. His face was a hitched-up lip sneer of disgust at the start of his match against sixth seed Dominic Thiem. Though he lost his opening service game, Nadal immediately broke back and within a few minutes was break up. Nadal wrapped up the first set 6-3 in 45 minutes. Express stuff indeed. The second was just as rapid and the third was over in a blur. Rafa was back in the locker room – post match interviews included - within two hours and 20 minutes. Wow. Bet Stan's happy they're first up on day 15.
2. But did the people get their money’s worth?
For the first time, there were two separate tickets for the two semi-finals. In the old days (last year), you bought your ticket for centre court and settled in for a tennis fest. But not this year, the stadium was emptied after the four and a half hour Wawrinka v Murray fight and in came the crew for the Nadal v Thiem clash. In terms of strokes per euro, you were better off in the first semi-final. We at the review feel it is time to get entrepreneurial and introduce the next stage: sell tickets for each set.
3. Thiem time will come
For a couple of years the Austrian player Dominic Thiem has been promoted as part of the next generation of stars. Or if you want to use circuit speak – “NextGen”. He is in the gang with 20-year-old Alexander Zverev, 21-year-old Nick Kyrgios and 21-year old Karen Khachanov. We at the review have no problem with such billing. But surely, is there not a built in obsolescence to the concept? How long can you be “NextGen”? When do you rise into the “Here and NowGen”? And who bestride the “ThenGen”? If, like Thiem, you are world number six, it suggests you are really very much “Here and NowGen”. Thiem was obliterated in semi-final on day 13 by Fossil Nadal. At the end of the third set 6-0 annihilation, it was more: “There, there, never mindGen.”
4. He really is an Iron Man, that Stan
Four hours in and Stan Wawrinka appeared to be rather warming to his task. True, it was hot out there on centre court and Andy Murray’s scurries had taken their toll. The 30-year-old world number one was a diminished entity at the start of the fifth set. Murray lost 16 of the first 20 points in the decider to go a double break down. The 32-year-old Swiss spring chicken assiduously wore down his flagging opponent having endured a torrid time earlier in the match when Murray retrieved lost causes and then won points he should have lost. “You know that will happen when you play Andy in a Grand Slam. You just have to remain focused on what you are doing,” said Zen Wawrinka. “That is why he is world number one. You are going to lose points you think you should have won.”
5. Clairvoyant Stan
We talk not of Stan Wawrinka but rather Stan Smith. Watching Rafael Nadal deconstruct Dominic Thiem on centre court, we were reminded of our conversation with the former US Open and Wimbledon champion and his wry take on playing Nadal on clay. “It would be like going to the dentist and having root canal treatment,” he said. Thiem did rather slump in his chair at the end of the 6-3 6-4 6-0 carve up.