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Bloodied but unbroken, Murray reaches final

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:34

Personal frustrations aside, Andy Murray cruised into his first grass court final at the AEGON Championships with a 6-2 6-4 victory over former world No.1 Juan Carlos Ferrero, and is now bidding to become the first British winner of the Queen’s Club tournament since 1938.

Murray, the top seed in the tournament, will face James Blake in the final after Andy Roddick retired from the all-American second semi-final after jolting his ankle at the back of the court early in the first set.

“It’s been a very good week – I’ve served well, returned well…” – Murray

Despite a potential date with history the world No.3, it would seem, is seldom satisfied. Well on his way to quickly dispatching another opponent at this year’s west London tournament, the top seed felt the need to vent his frustrations by punching his strings.

In truth, his angst was partially understandable. After yesterday’s dominant serving display against Mardy Fish (Murray only dropped five points on serve in the entire match), the start of the second set was a fractious affair with the first four games each reaching deuce.

Murray squandered four break points in that time, as many as he had seen against Fish, as the Spaniard began matching the world No.3 in the baseline exchanges, having looked a clear second-best in the match until the second set.

The Scot comprehensively dominated proceedings in the first, his serve and backhand carrying too much pace, and the drop shot-lob combination that is fast becoming a trademark outmanoeuvring Ferrero on countless occasions.

To his credit the former French Open champion attempted to take the game to the British No.1, but was not potent enough at the net to prevent Murray picking him off when he came forward, and lacked the firepower on serve to sufficiently trouble the Scot.

Murray broke in the first game of the match to love, and then in game five when even the net conspired against the Spaniard, launching a forehand drive beyond the baseline.

When Murray reached 0-40 on Ferrero’s serve at the start of the second set it looked like the inevitable demise of a man who had never before reached the semi-finals of a grass court tournament. But the Spaniard reeled off seven straight points to stay in the match and posed a few more problems for the increasingly annoyed Murray.

When the break did come in game seven, it resulted from a solid defensive performance from the British No.1. Twice Ferrero looked to be in control of the point, and twice Murray simply outlasted him – first from the baseline, and then scrambling across the court to put away a touch half-volley from Ferrero.

He claimed the break at the first time of asking at 15-40, returning deep and drawing the error from Ferrero, and the match was settled with a love service game soon after.

“It’s been a very good week – I’ve served well, returned well,” said Murray. “I haven’t given my opponents too many chances on my service games so I’ve been able to keep the pressure on them, and I’m happy.

“Running side to side was suspect, but we’re looking at days, not weeks” – Roddick

“The second set wasn’t easy,” he added. “I got off to a very good start in the first set, and managed to keep the pressure on by serving well. But at the start of the second he played some big points and made some big serves, and there was a lot of long rallies.”

In the day’s second semi-final, Andy Roddick was forced to retire at 4-4 with an ankle injury picked up in the third game of the match, handing James Blake a spot in the final.

The four-time champion jolted the joint as he wound down after chasing a Blake lob, slipping on the divide between the edge of the grass court and the lower concrete surround. Although he did not go over on his ankle, the No.2 seed conceded that it had hampered his movement.

“Running side to side was suspect,” said Roddick after the incident. “We’ll know more tomorrow. The doctors don’t think anything is torn – initial tests show that the stability was okay, but the range of motion was limited. We’re looking at days, not weeks.”

Blake, returning to the Queen’s Club final after being beaten by Lleyton Hewitt in 2006, admitted it was not he way he wanted to have won the match, but understood Roddick’s decision. “The only thing he would regret after this would be if he had tried to keep going and possibly gone over on it worse, and really endangered his chance of playing at Wimbledon.”

But the American was keen to turn his attention to tomorrow’s final against Murray, who he describes as one of the fun guys in the locker room. “I think a lot of credit goes to his team – making sure he keeps his head on straight, and they always seem to be having a good time.

“They make a locker room fun, they make a players’ lounge fun, which is a good sign for a young guy.”

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