Britain’s Andy Murray clinched his second Queen’s title with a 3-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4 victory over French fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final on Monday.
Murray, who also won the Wimbledon warm-up event in 2009, is the first Briton to lift the Queen’s trophy twice since Francis Gordon Lowe achieved his second of three titles in 1914.
It was also Murray’s first ATP title since beating Roger Federer at the Shanghai Masters in October and earned the Scot a cheque for $112 000.
More important than any financial gain, this gutsy victory was the perfect confidence boost for the world number four ahead of Wimbledon, which starts in a week’s time.
Murray arrived in west London to begin his grass-court campaign nursing serious concerns over the ankle ligament injury he suffered at the French Open.
So much fun to watch
But the second seed has been able to put aside those fears as the ankle held up well and the manner of this come-from-behind win will have pleased him even more.
Murray said: “Tsonga was playing a different sport to me in the first two sets. He’s so much fun to watch.
“He was using variation on his serve, and a lot of aggression. But I managed to break him eventually.
“My ankle has got much better. This has been one of the most funs weeks I’ve had on the tour. I’ve loved it.”
Tsonga added: “Of course there is a bit of frustration. I was not far from winning but this is tennis.
“To win a match you have to take your opportunities and he played a good match.”
Tsonga had beaten Murray in a friendly game of table-tennis as they waited in vain for the rain to relent on Sunday, but it was not a lucky omen for the fifth seed in the rescheduled final.
‘Keep it social’
Tsonga landed the first blow as he broke for a 4-2 lead when he correctly challenged that his forehand was in.
The flamboyant Frenchman has a well-deserved reputation as one of the game’s great entertainers and he showed off his trademark diving volley, as well as an athletic overhead smash, to keep Murray at bay in the next game.
Murray was struggling to find the majestic form that demolished three-time Wimbledon finalist Andy Roddick in less than an hour in the semifinals.
Roddick had pleaded with Murray to “keep it social” during that rout but Tsonga was a far more obdurate opponent.
Even when Murray produced a sublime pass on the run to bring up two break points at 3-5, Tsonga came up with a perfect forehand followed by a big serve to get out of trouble and clinch the first set.
Tsonga, who had the added incentive of avenging last year’s quarter-final defeat by Murray at Wimbledon, won the point of the match to make it 2-2 in the second set by keeping his balance to chase down a net cord and then a lob before driving a blistering forehand winner.
To his credit, Murray kept battling away. He had four break points for a 5-3 lead, but Tsonga found a way out of trouble each time.
Tsonga had two break points of his own at 5-5 and this time Murray caught a break as a net cord saved the second.
Both players were at their best now and Murray’s remarkable forehand through his legs was met with more Tsonga acrobatics as the Frenchman held serve to set up a tie-break.
Murray would not be denied though. He kept the pressure on and, aided by some wayward Tsonga ground-strokes, he easily won the breaker to earn a final set decider.
It was Murray who threatened first at 1-1, but the Scot squandered his ninth and 10th break points of the match.
There was no sign of Murray easing off, however, and he finally broke for the first time when Tsonga drifted a forehand wide in the fifth game.
Murray’s confidence was sky-high and he moved 5-3 ahead with another between-the-legs winner from an acute angle near the net.
There was no way back for Tsonga and he finally seemed to surrender as Murray served out the win. — AFP