Mur­ray sur­vives Muller scare to make Queen’s semis

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY STEVEN GRIF­FITHS

Andy Mur­ray sur­vived a ma­jor scare to keep his bid for a record-equal­ing fourth Queen’s Club ti­tle on track with a hard-fought vic­tory over Lux­em­bourg’s Gilles Muller in the quar­ter­fi­nals on Fri­day.

Mur­ray dropped the first set and was taken to a tie-break in the sec­ond be­fore fi­nally pre­vail­ing 3-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4 to reach the last four at the Wim­ble­don warm-up event for the fourth time.

Watched by Chelsea man­ager Jose Mour­inho for the sec­ond time this week, this was Mur­ray’s least con­vinc­ing dis­play of the tour­na­ment.

But he did just enough to se­cure a semi­fi­nal on Satur­day against in­form Serb Vik­tor Troicki

The 28-year-old last tri­umphed at Queen’s in 2013 and if he lifts the gi­ant sil­ver tro­phy on Sun­day he will join Boris Becker, John McEn­roe, Andy Rod­dick and Lley­ton He­witt as the joint record win­ner of the tour­na­ment.

“I started to read his serve a bit bet­ter at the end of the tiebreak and that’s when the match changed,” Mur­ray said.

“I re­turned bet­ter, re­laxed a bit more and played some good ten­nis.

“Hope­fully I can take that form into the semi­fi­nals. I’m in a good place, phys­i­cally I feel good.”

Although Mur­ray still has plenty of room for im­prove­ment as he fine-tunes his grass-court prepa­ra­tions ahead of Wim­ble­don, the Scot can at least take heart from the gritty way he sub­dued the bigserv­ing Muller to ex­tend his record since get­ting mar­ried in April to 18 wins from 19 matches.

He also now holds a 23-5 ca­reer record at Queen’s, mak­ing him the firm fa­vorite in a tour­na­ment bereft of star names fol­low­ing sur­prise defeats for Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka and Grigor Dim­itrov.

Muller, 32, was hop­ing to ben­e­fit from some in­side in­for­ma­tion about Mur­ray as his coach Jamie Del­gado is a close friend of the Scot.

More sig­nif­i­cantly, the world num­ber 48 had blasted 56 aces in his first two matches in a tour­na­ment whose fast sur­face has been a ma­jor bonus for the big servers.

Mur­ray’s serve isn’t quite so po­tent and, with his ground­strokes er­ratic in the early stages, he found him­self bro­ken in the fourth game.

Against a server in Muller’s blis­ter­ing form that proved fa­tal to his first set chances.

Raonic Ex­its

Mur­ray still couldn’t make an im­pact on Muller’s serve for much of the sec­ond set, but he raised his game at the cru­cial mo­ment with a flaw­less tie-break that forced a fi­nal set.

Bol­stered by that es­cape, Mur­ray’s re­turns fizzed with more power and ac­cu­racy and he fi- nally se­cured his first break of the match in the open­ing game of the third set — it proved decisive as he com­fort­ably served out the win.

Next up is Troicki, who eased to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 win over John Is­ner of the United States.

Troicki won’t fear Mur­ray af­ter fin­ish­ing as the run­ner-up on grass in Stuttgart last week and de­feat­ing U. S. Open cham­pion Marin Cilic in the Queen’s sec­ond round this week.

South Africa’s Kevin An­der­son pow­ered into the semi­fi­nals with a 7-6 (9/7), 7-5 vic­tory against Spain’s Guillermo Gar­cia-Lopez.

An­der­son was ap­pear­ing in the quar­ter­fi­nals for the third time in four years and the world num­ber 17 fi­nally made it to the last four af­ter blud­geon­ing Gar­cia-Lopez with 18 aces.

“It was def­i­nitely dom­i­nated by serves to­day, so step one was take care of my own and try and cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties on his serve. For­tu­nately, I was able to get one right be­fore the end,” An­der­son said.

An­der­son’s last four op­po­nent will be French sev­enth seed Gilles Si­mon, who fought back from a set down to de­feat world num­ber eight Mi­los Raonic 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.

World num­ber 13 Si­mon had lost all three of his pre­vi­ous meet­ings with Raonic, but the 30-yearold booked his first ap­pear­ance in the Queen’s last four on his fifth match point.

AP

The UK’s Andy Mur­ray plays a re­turn to Lux­em­bourg’s Gilles Muller dur­ing their quar­ter­fi­nal ten­nis match on the fifth day of the Queen’s Cham­pi­onships in Lon­don, on Fri­day, June 19.

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