Stan Wawrinka moved to within one win away from a second French Open title on day 13 in Paris, as the Swiss man twice came from behind to defeat world number one Andy Murray.
The 2015 champion hit a staggering 87 winners throughout the match and broke Murray’s serve four times in the deciding set to clinch a thrilling 6-7 (6/8) 6-3 5-7 7-6 (7/3) 6-1 semi-final win in four hours and 34 minutes.
The result leaves Murray still awaiting a first French Open title having fallen to Novak Djokovic in the final last year with Wawrinka scoring revenge on the Scotsman for defeat at this stage twelve months ago.
Wawrinka started off strongly as he chased down a drop shot and hit a forehand cross court winner to earn a 5-3 lead in the opening set, but Murray fought back to force a tie-break with successive lobs.
The Swiss man spurned set point when his backhand was crashed into the net after he prevailed into a volley exchange at the net, but Murray once again fought back and snatched the set with a lob after 68 minutes.
It was the first set dropped in Paris by Wawrinka, but he scored the crucial break point at 3-3 in the second set with a trademark backhand winner down the line to even the match, as he went on a run of seven straight games to build a 3-0 lead in the third.
However, the top seed fought back with successive breaks to level 5-5 and scored another break when two volleys from Wawrinka missed the target to allow Murray hold serve to move into a 2-1 lead.
After neither man could find a way through in the fourth set, Wawrinka forced the match into a decider as the 32-year-old triumphed in a fourth set tie break with a forehand return winner, after Murray sent a drop shot into the net.
Wawrinka carried that momentum into the fifth set winning the opening five games and while Murray broke his serve at 5-0, it only delayed the inevitable as the third seed broke straight back to seal victory with a 21st backhand winner.
Wawrinka will face nine-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal in the final on Sunday, after the in-form Spaniard brushed Austrian Dominic Thiem aside to edge closer towards a 15th grand slam title.
Nadal – who has already won the Barcelona Open and the Monte Carlo Masters this year – proved too strong for the sixth seed in their semi-final clash, as he emerged a 6-3 6-4 6-0 winner to reach the final in Paris for the first time since 2014.
Sixth seed Thiem is the only man to have beaten Nadal on clay this season in the Italian Open, but he was always second best in this one as Nadal looks to become the first player in the Open are to win 10 titles at a single grand slam.
Thiem stunned last year’s champion Novak Djokovic with a convincing win in the quarter-finals but Nadal was just too good for the 23-year-old, who still awaits his first grand slam final.
Thiem and Nadal exchanged breaks in the opening two games of the first set, before Nadal scored a decisive break at 4-1 to take a one-set lead after the sixth seed spurned four more chances to break back against the 31-year-old.
Thiem decided to change things up at the start of the second but anything he tried Nadal had answers for, as the Spaniard scored another vital break in the third game to help him take a two set lead.
Nadal broke again in the opening game of the third set on his way to winning all six games for the bagel and also saved a break point in the final game on his way to clinching a dominant win after two hours and seven minutes.