Faultless Murray carves out rapid route to final

Ferrero blown away by Briton now one match from ending 71-year barren run

Andy Murray's matches at the Aegon Championships are getting tougher by the day. Having been detained for 59 minutes, 69 minutes and 70 minutes in his first three contests, the 22-year-old Scot was extended to a full 71 minutes by Juan Carlos Ferrero in the semi-finals here yesterday. At this rate he might even have to win a tie-break in today's final against James Blake, who benefited from Andy Roddick's retirement with an ankle injury.

With Wimbledon just eight days away, Murray's game is in splendid shape. The world No 3, a 6-2 6-4 winner over Ferrero, has transferred from continental red clay to the green grass of home with the apparent ease of someone flicking a light switch.

It would be hard to find any fault with Murray's play over the last four days. He has served superbly, with a well-disguised and varied second serve backing up the power and precision of his first. His returns have been as effective as ever on grass and there cannot be a more potent double-handed backhand in the whole of tennis.

The stroke that particularly impressed on this occasion was Murray's backhand slice. The Scot strikes the ball with both back and side spin and when it hits the turf it keeps devilishly low. Murray kept hitting it deliberately short, spinning away from Ferrero's forehand. At full stretch, the Spaniard could do little more than get the ball back over the net, opening up the court for Murray to play winning lobs and passes.

It might be tempting fate, but on the evidence here it is hard to imagine anyone other than Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal beating Murray at Wimbledon, though the Scot himself clearly prefers not to mention the 'W' word. "It's so easy, based on a few matches, to get ahead of yourself," he said after yesterday's win.

"That's a problem I think that a lot of people have in this country. They expect huge things, thinking that it's just going to happen. I need to go out there and do it and make it happen. Any Grand Slams are going to be incredibly tough. It might sound boring, and all sports people say it all the time, but I'm not thinking about winning Wimbledon. I'm thinking about the match tomorrow and then preparing for the Championships the best that I can. There's no part of me that's thinking about winning the Wimbledon title."

While Federer and Nadal will go into Wimbledon without any grass-court competition behind them – the Swiss pulled out of the Halle tournament, exhausted after his French Open victory, and the Spaniard withdrew from this event with knee trouble – Murray is following the route chosen by many previous winners at the All England Club. Nadal, who won here last year, was the latest in a long line of Queen's champions who went on to be crowned king of Wimbledon. Indeed since 1979 only seven winners of this tournament have not won Wimbledon at some stage of their careers. It is also 71 years since a Briton – Bunny Austin – last won at Queen's.

Murray, through to his first final on grass, left the court with blood on the back of a hand and down his shorts after punching his strings in a rare moment of frustration, but if that gave the impression he had been involved in a scrap it was misleading. For the third match in a row Murray did not have a single break point against him. He has dropped serve only once all week and has yet to lose a set.

Although Ferrero made Murray work for his points in the second set, the outcome was never in doubt from the moment the Scot broke serve in the opening game. Ferrero is a former world No 1 and French Open champion but his current ranking at No 90 is a reflection of his declining powers, even if this was the first grass-court semi-final of his career. He is, nevertheless, a nimble mover with fine ground strokes and he offered a very different challenge to the big-hitting game of Mardy Fish in Murray's quarter-final.

Murray took the first set in 28 minutes, dropping just five points on his serve. The Scot even got a Hawk-Eye challenge right, despite having already gone to his chair in the apparent expectation of his usual failure to see eye-to-eye with the video replay cameras. He lost seven points in a row early in the second set but served out for victory after breaking in the seventh game.

"I got off to a very good start in the first set," Murray said. "I've been serving well all week and managed to keep the pressure on by serving well, but I had chances at the start of the second set and didn't take them. He played some good points and some big serves. There were a lot of good, long rallies."

Blake reached his second Queen's final – he lost in straight sets to Lleyton Hewitt in 2006 – after Roddick turned his right ankle in the third game of the all-American contest. Roddick retired with the score at 4-4 and will have a scan today but the early signs were of no lasting damage. Murray has met Blake only once before, losing to the world No 16 on clay in Hamburg three years ago. It will be tough.

News
people

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
News
peopleLynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance moves audience to tears
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The last great picture - Winner 'Black and White' and overall 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year'
art
News
news

Powerful images of strays taken moments before being put down

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
S Club 7 pose for Children in Need 2001
music
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voices

Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
News
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee
people

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon

News
news

Voices
Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014
voices

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London