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Mats Point: Murray is a tactical 'genius', says Wilander

PARIS (Reuters) - Andy Murray will need to be at his streetwise best to beat Stan Wawrinka in the French Open semi-finals on Friday, three-times former Roland Garros champion Mats Wilander told Reuters.

Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - June 7, 2017 Great Britain's Andy Murray in action during his quarter final match against Japan's Kei Nishikori Reuters / Gonzalo Fuentes

Britain’s world number one has made a career out of solving puzzles during matches -- making up for a lack of one killer shot by utilizing one of the best brains in men’s tennis,” said the Swede who was also known for his smart tactics.

“Murray will have to raise his level against Stan, but Andy Murray is not one of those players who plays well or badly, he plays the right way or the wrong way,” according to Wilander, who presents Eurosport’s flagship show ‘Game, Set and Mats’.

“Andy knows the right way to play Stan. The confidence factor will fall into place because he will know his game plan. It’s all about playing the right way, the right match, and Murray is a genius at that.”

Wawrinka proved in beating Novak Djokovic in the 2015 French Open final that he can blast anyone off the court with his groundstrokes and punishing serve, but Murray defused the Swiss’s game in last year’s semis with a tactical masterclass.

Rafael Nadal’s forehand is one of the most destructive shots ever seen while his semi-final opponent Dominic Thiem’s single-handed backhand, loaded with fizzing topspin, is also becoming one of the most feared weapon’s in tennis.

Murray often needs a few extra shots to finish rallies, although it would be foolish to downplay the lethal nature of his groundstrokes. But it is the Scot’s tennis brain that has helped him win three grand slam titles, said Wilander.

“We tend to think Murray has less power than Nadal,” he said. “Nadal just tries to hit as many forehands as possible and they are very clever forehands but he just gets guys on the run.

“Murray doesn’t have that shot. He has to plot his way through every point. So I think he is getting more out of his game than most players. That’s not saying he is over-achieving.

“But to compete with some of these great ball strikers and beat them handily, often, that’s down to his street sense on the court. He’s a genius. He can sense when to play the right shot.

“He feels every point. He’s very complicated. He’s so intense, he gets frustrated because he knows what’s going on, he feels every situation. To try and explain what Murray feels on a tennis court is a waste of time.

“There have not been any players ever who feel the moments, feel the tactics better than Murray.”

Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris