Andy Murray [2] vs Stan Wawrinka [3]

If you’re rooting for the Stanimal, you’ll anticipate his neon shirt won’t be the only aspect of his game to light up Philippe Chatrier. And if the Murray-Machine is your pick, you hope he’s ready to grind to the end.

2013 saw Wawrinka rise through the rankings as an authentic threat to the dominance of the “Big 4”. Since then, he’s defeated Murray in all their three encounters- Monte Carlo 2013, USOpen 2014 and ATP Finals 2015.

Murray, however, leads their head to head 8:7 through a strew of earlier wins.
The world number two, who did not start out loving the dirt, has turned his game around to become surprisingly one of the better court players. And with his recent results in Rome, he has the silverware to prove it.

Wawrinka’s game suits the clay where he can use the slower courts to wind up his massive strokes. His game employs high-risk big shots which result in a high number of winners and unforced errors.

Tactically against Murray, the defending champ must try to keep a healthy ratio of winners to those errors. Though we rave about his monstrous backhand, it is actually his blistering forehand that creates most winners- usually twice as many. Stan will try to create angles from both wings, ensuring neither wing balloons. Meanwhile, Murray will try to patiently grind out as many long rallies as possible forcing Stan to strike first with one of his high risk big shots. The Scot will need to convert a high percentage of first serves and take pressure off his weaker second serve, as Stan would welcomely crush the short balls.

This promises to be a game of scrambling strokes vs thundering blows. But it will come down to who can manage their emotions.

When things go downhill, the Swiss can get very impatient, forcing his shots. Previously when he felt his shots are failing him, he has had the tendency to self-destruct. Murray too has suffered his own meltdowns. Alternatively he can turn cantankerous, snarling up at his box.

Both are going for their third slam. Will Wawrinka displace Murray’s position in the big four, or will the Scot solidify his claim? As Stan battles the pressure to defend his title and Murray struggles with the weight of making his first French final, the winner will likely be he who mentally triumphs over the occasion.

Garbiñe Muguruza [4] vs Sam Stosur [21]

It’s easy to forget that Sam Stosur was a previous grand slam winner. The Aussie won the US Open in 2011, but has struggled with form the last couple years. Coincidentally these were the years that Gabine Mugaruza broke through and catapulted up through the rankings.

This contest will be a physical battle as both players will want to dictate from baseline with their forehand.

If Muguruza wants to make it to her first Roland Garros finals, she will want to target Stosur’s backhand. To avoid been pushed off the court into defensive position, she will also want to step in on Sam’s heavy kick serve and take it early. Stosur could try and hit the Muguruza off the court, but mixing it up with drop shots would be an effective way to throw the Spaniard off her rhythm.

The world number four had proved she has nerves of steel. She plays the big points well. Stosur too is made of sterner stuff, often fighting from the back of the scoreboard to end up winning the set.

Both women are resilient, aggressive and are extremely fit. However if the match progresses to a third set, we’re giving the edge to Gabine who being ten years junior to Stosur will have the younger legs. Will this be the comeback year for Stosur or breakthrough year for Muguruza?


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