Andy Murray snapped another forehand return crackling past Andy Roddick with eye-popping accuracy. Roddick had seen enough of the inspired Scot’s ridiculous racquet work twisting points into punch lines to interrupt the clinic with a simple request.
“Keep it social,” Roddick said with a small smile.
On a day in which winners flowed from his frame as rapidly as an auctioneer reciting the alphabet, Murray turned a Queen’s Club clash of former champs into target practice, overwhelming Roddick, 6-3, 6-1, in 59 minutes to advance to his first final since he fell in the Australian Open title match in January.
The 2009 Queen’s Club champion was so sharp shifting speeds and spins and hitting his targets he reduced Roddick to spectator status at times with whipping forehand return winners, audacious drop shots and a snapping serve that frequently left the four-time champion lunging at air. Murray consistently probed the corners of the service box, striking 13 aces and winning 18 of 22 points played on his first serve.
Rarely is Roddick’s first serve dismissed with such authority on a grass court, but Murray was reading the wide serve as easily as a man seeing each letter on the logo of the oncoming ball. He broke early in each set to extinguish Roddick’s bid to become the first man to win five Queen’s Club championships. The second seed spun a forehand down the line, slapped an ace out wide and closed a commanding set sending his 10th ace off the sideline to seal the first set.
Haunted by the head-turning returns, Roddick hit a rare double fault then butchered a high forehand volley into net to drop serve at the start of the second set. Murray consolidated with another ace down the T then spent the rest of the match swinging as freely as a man slamming shut his backyard garden gate.
“I got off to a good start. Andy is one of the toughest guys on tour to break and it doesn’t happen too often that you break him like that,” Murray told Tennis Channel. “Everything that touched my racquet was going in. It felt great out there. I’m sure if we play at Wimbledon in a couple week’s time it will be a lot more competitive.”
Slower surfaces and faster opponents than he encountered when he claimed his first Queen’s Club crown eight years ago as well as a more measured style of play have heightened the degree of difficulty Roddick faces in finishing points. Point construction was a two-act play for Roddick in those days — slide the biting serve wide and slug the forehand into the open court, point over — but now he sometimes plays like a man carefully crossing a busy intersection trying to avoid stepping in potholes — protectionary rather than proactive tennis.
On this day there’s not much Roddick, or anyone else, could have done to disrupt a locked-in Murray.
Continuing his quest for his first title since Shanghai last October, Murray will meet either fifth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or British wild card James Ward in Sunday’s final that has been moved to noon local London time due to an anticipated storm later in the day. Murray has won four of five meetings with Tsonga, including a four-set victory in the 2010 Wimbledon quarterfinals.
— Richard Pagliaro