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Tennis

Williams, Muguruza, Djokovic, Murray through to Roland Garros finals

Serena Williams celebrates victory in the 2016 Roland Garros semi-final
Serena Williams celebrates victory in the 2016 Roland Garros semi-final RFI/Pierre René-Worms
4 min

No big surprises in the men’s and women’s finals line-up at Roland Garros 2016. The men’s top seed Novak Djokovic disposed of the 13th seed Dominic Thiem in straight sets and the second seed Andy Murray beat the third seed and defending champion Stan Wawrinka in four. In the women’s semi-finals top seed Serena Williams had to work hard to get past unseeded Kiki Bertens 7-6 6-4 while fourth seed Garbine Muguruza simply overpowered Samantha Stosur 6-2 6-4.

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And so, for all the rain and delays, the women’s final will take place on Saturday afternoon and the men’s showdown will unfold on the third Sunday.

Two years ago, Muguruza destroyed Williams in the second round 6-2 6-2. Williams avenged that defeat somewhat by beating her in last year’s Wimbledon final. The 2016 final will be intriguing.

“Muguruza has been playing a really aggressive game and going for her shots,” said Williams. “The last time we played at Roland Garros, she was able to win the match and I learned so much from that match. I hate to lose but when I do I hope it was worth it. And that match was needed and worth it.”

Quite what she learned Williams refused to divulge, except that the knowledge has allowed her to go on and win many more matches. The 34-year-old will sweep through the final if she maintains that level of mystery.

By contrast, effusiveness was perhaps one of endearing features about Muguruza when she stunned Williams two years ago. She went on to reach the quarter-final that year and also the last eight in 2015. Defeat seemed to be grasped on the point of coronation.

Muguruza version 2016 is an altogether cooler customer.

She says she regards the final as the final combat between the tournament’s two best players. It’s natural that the top seed is one of them, she added. And it’s not something which will destabilise her.

“I’ve learned a lot on how to control my emotions inside the court and outside the court,” said the 22-year-old. “I think it’s very important because sometimes it’s not good to show them or control them. In a tournament like this you have to be very focused. I’ve been putting a lot into that and it’s been going well.”

Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros 3 juin 2016
Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros 3 juin 2016 RFI/Pierre René-Worms

Djokovic deconstructs Thiem

Djokovic punctuated his encounter with wide-eyed intense staring at his coaching team. He deconstructed Thiem in the first two sets and quickly extinguished any whiff of a rebellion in the third when the Austrian had the temerity to break the older man’s serve and race into a 3-0 lead.

Thiem displayed enough nous and flair to warrant the tag of one of the next big things. But with the Serb in uberdetermined mode, the 2016 semi-final at Roland Garros was not going to be the point of arrival.

Djokovic will play Murray for the second consecutive grand slam final of the year.

Djokovic won quite easily in Australia in January to collect a record sixth title in Melbourne and his 11th overall. Victory on Sunday would amass more accolades. The 29-year-old would become only the eighth man since tennis became a professional game in 1969 to win at all four grand slam venues. He’d also become the first player since Rod Laver to win four grand slams tournaments on the trot.

Laver, who won Roland Garros twice, was in Paris on Friday to collect a trophy from the French Tennis Federation acknowledging his feats.

Laver will, for the moment have the bragging rights, over Djokovic. He won his four in the same calendar year. And he did that twice. Still some way to go Novak.

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