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AEGON Championships
Murray Ends British Title Drought At Queen's Club
Queen's Club/London, Great Britain
by ATP Staff | 14.06.2009
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Andy Murray
© Getty Images

ATP World Tour No. 3 Andy Murray ended Great Britain’s 71-year wait for a homegrown champion at the AEGON Championships after defeating No. 6 seed James Blake 7-5, 6-4 on Sunday in the final of the ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament at The Queen’s Club in London.

Already a strong contender to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in November, Murray further boosted his campaign by receiving 250 South African Airways 2009 ATP Ranking points and €84,300 in prize money. Blake, a runner-up at The Queen’s Club for a second time, earned 150 Ranking points and €48,000.

“It's pretty special,” reflected Murray. “There have been some great grass-court players from Britain the last 70-odd years. Tim (Henman) and Greg (Rusedski) were both very good grass-court players. The names that are on the trophy, there's a lot of great, great players. So to be on that trophy is great. Obviously because it's not happened that a British player has won for so long, that makes it nicer.”

Murray is the first British man to win the title at The Queen’s Club since Henry “Bunny” Austin beat Sin-Khie Kho of China 6-2, 6-0 in the 1938 final. Later that month, Austin reached the final of The Championships at Wimbledon (l. to Budge) – where Murray will hope to taste his first Grand Slam success and become the first British men’s singles champion since Fred Perry triumphed in 1936.

“For me, if I go into a Grand Slam feeling confident and having won a tournament, regardless of whether it's here or in Paris or the US Open, it's good for my game,” commented Murray. “I'm not planning on getting caught up in the whole hype and the pressure, because I don't think that that helps if you do. I'm going to try and just concentrate on playing and winning matches. You can let the pressure affect you if you want to. You can let the expectation get to you if you really want to, but I'm just going to play tennis and not worry about the rest of the stuff.

“I'm playing very well just now. I feel physically strong, and I'll work on my fitness the next four or five days going into Wimbledon. Hopefully that will make a difference here.”

Since Austin’s 1938 success, four British players had tried and failed to lift the prestigious AEGON Championships trophy – with Tim Henman coming the closest as he finished runner-up three times in 1999 (l. to Sampras) and 2001-02 (l. to Hewitt).

The 22-year-old Murray was contesting his fifth ATP World Tour final of the season and collected his fourth title; only World No. 1 Rafael Nadal with five trophies has won more tour-level titles in 2009. It is Murray’s first grass-court title, making him the first Briton to achieve that feat since Greg Rusedski defeated Vincent Spadea in the 2005 Newport final.

Under a cloudless sky and bright sunshine on Sunday afternoon in south-west London, Murray stepped out to a wave of hope and expectation on centre court and did not disappoint the British fans as he broke Blake’s serve early with a drop-shot winner to lead 2-1. However, the Scot – who later admitted to suffering from early nerves – immediately handed the break back to his American opponent in a subdued service game, which Blake capitalised on with rifling forehand winner to level at 2-2.

A patient Murray settled in to the match and bided his time and was presented with another opportunity to break the Blake serve in the 11th game and seized his opportunity to earn a 6-5 lead as the sixth seed netted a forehand. The Scot then closed out the first set after 35 minutes as Blake’s driving forehand down-the-line found the net.

Murray earned a key break through in the seventh game of the second set as a frustrated Blake netted a sliced backhand approach shot. The Dunblane native then coolly served out to love his first victory on home soil, sealing the championship win after 67 minutes when Blake’s backhand return hit the net.

Her Royal Highness The Duchess Of Gloucester presented the AEGON Championships trophy to Murray.

After exhibiting what he claimed to have been some of his best tennis en route to the title, Murray became the seventh different player since 1979 to have won the AEGON Championships without losing a set. He joined John McEnroe (1980-81), Jimmy Connors (1982-83), Ivan Lendl (1990), Stefan Edberg (1991), Boris Becker (1996) and Lleyton Hewitt (2000). The Scot has a 21-1 record in grass-court matches after winning the first set and lost serve just twice in 48 service games this week.

Appearing in his 18th tour-level final, Murray improved to a 12-6 mark. The right-hander had triumphed at Doha (d. Roddick), Rotterdam (d. Nadal) and ATP World Masters 1000 Miami (d. Djokovic) earlier in the season, while also finishing runner-up to Nadal at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Indian Wells. Victory at The Queen’s Club means that Murray is the third player this season to have won 40 tour-level matches as he improved to a 40-6 mark in 2009.

World No. 16 Blake was looking for his first grass-court title after finishing runner-up at Newport in 2002 (l. to Dent) and at The Queen’s Club in 2006 (l. to Hewitt). The 29 year old dropped to a 10-14 mark in ATP World Tour finals, having also lost out to Albert Montanes in the Estoril final on clay last month. The right-hander has not won at ATP World Tour title since August 2007, when he defeated Mardy Fish in the New Haven final.

“A match like this, top players, it comes down to a couple of points, who plays those big break points better,” assessed Blake. “I don't think I saved one break point today. He just played those points a little better than me today. That's frustrating, but when it just turns on a couple points here and there, I feel like I'm right there. I have another week of practice and preparation for Wimbledon. Hopefully I'll be ready and playing this well or even better there.”

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