From Paris’ red clay, the ATP moved onto London’s green grass this week. At the Aegon Championships final, Brit Andy Murray, the top seed and world number 3, conquered American James Blake 7-5, 6-4 to become the first British male since Henry Austin in 1938 to win at Queen’s club.
After each player held serve, Murray produced a break point with a backhand down the line winner. Then, when Blake’s forehand went off the court, Murray converted. However, with three successive forehand errors by Murray, Blake had double break point. The American crushed a forehand up the line winner for 2 all. A couple of times, Blake had small windows to take the lead. But, with errors, James’ chances fell by the waste side. After goading Blake into forehand errors in long rallies, Murray went on to secure a break for 6-5. Then, with a strong service game, the Brit captured the first set.
Subsequent to both players starting the second set well, serving at two all, Blake committed two forehand errors to go down 0-30. Yet, with a couple of good serves and by attacking the net, the American held for 3-2. After Murray protected service in a tricky game; leading 30-0, Blake made three backhand mistakes to gift the Brit a break point. Unable to handle a dipping return, Blake dumped another backhand volley into the net giving Murray a 4-3 edge. After easily consolidating and Blake holding, Murray closed out the championship with a love game.
By winning his first grass court title, Murray has thrown his name into the hat of challengers to Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer for the Wimbledon trophy. Nadal, last year’s victor at Queen’s, was unable to compete due to ongoing knee issues and it’s uncertain whether the Spaniard will be healthy enough to defend his Wimbledon crown. Another contender, American Andy Roddick is also a question mark for Wimbledon. Roddick was forced to retire in the semifinals against Blake after rolling over his right ankle.