Wawrinka rallies to defeat Murray, reaches French Open final

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PARIS — Battering the ball as if each shot would determine the match’s outcome, 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka came back to beat No. 1-ranked Andy Murray 6-7 (6), 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (3), 6-1 on Friday and become the oldest French Open finalist in 44 years.

The No. 3-seeded Wawrinka, a 32-year-old from Switzerland, reached the fourth Grand Slam final of his career. He’s won the previous three: at Roland Garros two years ago, the U.S. Open last September and the Australian Open in 2014.

A year ago at the French Open, Wawrinka lost to Murray in the semifinals. This time, Wawrinka managed to wear down the seemingly tireless Murray, himself a three-time major champion. It was a triumph of offense over defense, as Wawrinka used his sublime one-handed backhand and hammer of a forehand to send Murray scrambling and sliding all over the red clay at Court Philippe Chatrier for a tad more than 4 1/2 hours.

Over and over again, Murray would lean, or even lunge, and somehow manage to put his racket strings on seemingly unreachable shots. Murray used plenty of drop shots and lobs, often to great effect. He deflected overheads. In sum, Murray generally made Wawrinka work so hard to get any shot past him.

But make no mistake: Wawrinka does not discourage easily. He kept absolutely walloping his strokes, resolute in his intention to attack and attack and attack.

Wawrinka ran away with the fifth set, taking 16 of the first 21 points and going up 5-0. He ended it, appropriately, with a backhand down the line, his 87th winner of the day, 51 more than Murray accumulated.

When he faces nine-time champion Rafael Nadal of Spain will be the oldest man in a French Open title match since Niki Pilic was 33 when he was the runner-up to Ilie Nastase in 1973.

Michael Stich, Helena Sukova inducted into tennis hall

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NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) Michael Stich and Helena Sukova have been inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

They were enshrined Saturday during a ceremony on Newport’s grass center court outside the hall.

Stich won Wimbledon in 1991 and a gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics in doubles with German countryman Boris Becker, also a Hall of Famer.

The 49-year-old Stich said he is “so proud and honored to be a part of the family.”

Hall of Famer Jim Courier told the crowd that “the beauty of his game is what really sticks with me.”

Sukova, a 53-year-old Czech, captured 14 Grand Slam doubles crowns – nine in women’s, five in mixed.

Victoria Azarenka misses direct entry for U.S. Open

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NEW YORK — Two-time U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka is ranked just below the cutoff for direct entry into the year’s last Grand Slam tournament.

Azarenka, a former No. 1 and twice the champion at the Australian Open, is No. 108 this week, seven spots outside of an automatic spot in the main draw.

The U.S. Tennis Association announced Wednesday that defending champion and top-ranked Rafael Nadal is one of six past male singles champions in the U.S. Open field, along with Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Juan Martin del Potro and Marin Cilic. Another past title winner at Flushing Meadows, Stan Wawrinka, is ranked 199th this week.

The women’s winners with direct entry based on this week’s rankings are six-time champion Serena Williams, two-time champ Venus Williams, defending champ Sloane Stephens, Maria Sharapova and Samantha Stosur.