Andy Murray will have to win two matches in one day if he is to claim his fourth Aegon Championships title here. The world No 3 was tied at 3-3 in the opening set of his semi-final against Viktor Troicki when play was called off following heavy rain. The match will resume at 11am on Sunday, after which the winner will face Kevin Anderson in the final, which will not start before 2.25pm.
The main beneficiary of the postponement could be Troicki, who was having treatment for a shoulder problem when the players were forced off court as rain started to fall. Having saved five break points when serving at 3-3, the Serb will be facing a sixth when play resumes this morning.
In what proved to be the final point of the day, Troicki slipped and then fell while attempting in vain to reach a Murray backhand down the line at deuce. The world No 25 was left clutching his left shoulder, though the fall did not look serious.
Troicki did hit some balls when the players returned to the court to warm up again shortly afterwards. The respite from the rain was only brief, however, and the match never restarted, with play eventually abandoned for the day at 6.45pm.
Winning two matches in a day will be a tough order, but Murray has already done so on one occasion this year. Because of bad weather at the BMW Open in Munich, where Murray won the first clay-court title of his career last month, the Scot had to play his quarter-final and semi-final on the same day. For good measure he also went out to play a doubles match later in the afternoon.
Anderson, who has lost four of his five meetings with Murray and did not take a set off him at Wimbledon last summer, reached the biggest final of his career with a gritty 6-3 6-7 6-3 defeat of France’s Gilles Simon. The 6ft 8in South African again used his big serve to good effect, his 34 aces taking his total for the week to 96.
“I definitely feel I have been serving great this week,” Anderson said afterwards. “I have definitely been able to feel like maybe at a higher level this week. At this point it’s more just about the rhythm and the way it feels. I really feel it’s been clicking in the last few matches.”
Anderson has looked sharp from the start of the tournament, for which he has Jack Nicklaus to thank. The world No 17 is based in Florida and lives just half an hour away from the golfing legend, who has three grass courts in his garden.
“Jack was kind enough to let us hit there,” Anderson said. “I think he’s let other pros come out before. I know Ivan Lendl did it way back. It was a nice few days up there. I thought Jack himself was going to get out there, but although we chatted a little bit he didn’t bring out his racket.”
Simon will expect to be back here next month when Britain take on France in the quarter-finals of the Davis Cup, though it is by no means certain who his colleagues will be. Julien Benneteau, France’s best doubles player, will not be available because of injury and there are concerns about the fitness of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils.
Monfils retired hurt with a knee injury in the quarter-finals in Halle on Friday, while Tsonga has pulled out of this week’s Aegon Open in Nottingham because of an abdominal strain. Tsonga has not played since his French Open semi-final defeat by Stan Wawrinka, the eventual champion.
When France lost the Davis Cup final to Switzerland at the end of last year Tsonga and Monfils were their first-choice singles players, though Richard Gasquet replaced Tsonga on the final day. The French have strength in depth, with four players ranked in the world’s top 20 in singles – Tsonga (12), Simon (13), Monfils (16) and Gasquet (19). They have similar strength in depth in doubles, with four players in the top 30.
Nicolas Mahut, who is the world No 60 in singles and is also the top-ranked French doubles player at No 19, is a likely choice for the Davis Cup team, especially as he is a proven performer on grass. The 33-year-old, who won the title on grass in ’s-Hertogenbosch last weekend, has been given a wild card into Wimbledon. His singles world ranking was not high enough to earn a place in the main draw at the All England Club when entries closed last month.
Mahut and his fellow countryman, Pierre-Hugues Herbert, who is the world No 29 in doubles, reached the Australian Open doubles final this year. They also played together at the French Open and are in this afternoon’s final here against either Daniel Nestor and Leander Paes or Marcin Matkowski and Nenad Zimonjic.
Grass is greener for Federer: Swiss one match away from eighth Halle title
It never takes Roger Federer long to feel at ease in his grass-court shoes and the 33-year-old Swiss took another step towards winning his eighth title at Halle, where he traditionally warms up for Wimbledon.
Federer saw off the threat of Ivo Karlovic, beating the big-serving Croatian 7-6 7-6 to earn a meeting in Sunday’s final with Italy’s Andrea Seppi, whose semi-final opponent, Kei Nishikori, retired with a leg injury after only five games.
Karlovic, who hit a record 45 aces in his quarter-final victory over Tomas Berdych, fired 20 more against Federer, who saved the only break point of the match in the fourth game of the second set, but the Croation was outplayed in both tie-breaks, which the world No 2 won 7-3 and 7-4.
“It’s always complicated to play Ivo, but I remained calm when it mattered,” said Federer, who won only five points on Karlovic’s serve in the first set but saved his best tennis for the tie-breaks. A superb backhand return put him in front in the first and he sealed the second with a backhand volley after one hour and 28 minutes.
Seppi, who had also benefited from Gael Monfils’ mid-match retirement in the quarter-finals, beat Federer in the Australian Open at the start of this year but that is his only victory in their 12 meetings.
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