Murray nearly lost his chance for the tryst with history. Playing the Aegon Championships final against Canada’s Milos Raonic, the Scot lost the first set and trailed 0-3 in the second. With the Canadian making fire with his trademark booming service, just the crowd support wasn’t enough for Murray. But just in the nick of time, world’s no.2 player managed to pull himself back from the ditch and surprised Raonic. The three-set victory gave Murray a unique distinction of winning the prestigious Queen’s Club tournament 5 times. Seven players have won the tournament on 4 occasions each and Murray has exceeded that count to become the only man to do so for the fifth time in the 126 year old history of the event. In the only other ATP event of last week, Florin Mayer lifted the Halle trophy after beating compatriot Alexander Zverev. The German teenager had sent shockwaves earlier by defeating Federer in semifinal but couldn’t repeat his heroics against Mayer.
The attention in Sunday’s Queen’s Club final was not undivided. While Andy Murray and Milos Raonic began hitting practice balls before the match, TV cameras and viewers couldn’t stop focusing on Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe. After all, the last millennium’s two celebrity stars had their wards playing against each other. While Murray began another stint with Lendl as his coach, Raonic hired McEnroe for this year’s grass season. Of the seven players, who won at Queen’s Club 4 times; McEnroe was one of them. Lendl won the tournament twice in 1989, 1990 and McEnroe reached the finals on 7 occasions and won in 1979, 1980, 1981 and 1984.
The two players were equally matched in the first set that went on serves all the way to 6-6. Now it was important for Murray to deal with the Canadian’s service bombs. The TV showed McEnroe pouting as Raonic led 3-0. Murray looked somewhat frustrated with himself but still managed to draw level at 5-5 as the crowds roared. However, Raonic stole a point from Murray and finished off next to take the first set. Raonic began the second set by holding his serve and breaking Murray’s next. The lead jumped to 3-0 as Raonic held his service again.
Down a set and 0-3 in the second didn’t bode well for Murray’s ambition of winning at Queen’s Club for a record fifth time. However, the Scot held his serve to make it 3-1. The fifth game was crucial for both players. Murray’s trademark ability of returning the hottest of services helped him level at 30-30 but Raonic didn’t relent. He took the score to 40-30 and came tantalizing close to taking a 4-1 lead, from where the Brit would have found the comeback quite difficult. But Murray challenged a line call and won the Hawk’s eye decision that brought the scores to deuce. It was now or never for Murray with the entire stadium rooting for him. Murray didn’t falter on the next two points and obtained the vital break. Suddenly, he began looking his true self and after leveling the scores at 3-3, he broke Raonic again. With the 4-3 lead and his own service to follow, Murray decisively turned things around. He allowed just one more point to Raonic and forced the decider with a 6-4 win in the second set. The Scot continued the momentum by breaking Raonic’s opening service game in the third set and looked set with a 2-0 lead by holding his own service next. Nothing spectacular happened in the set and Murray finished a regulation third set and the match with a 6-7, 6-4, 6-3 victory and etched his name in Queen’s Club tennis history.
In the German city of Halle, history of another kind was made, when Florian Mayer became one of the lowest ranked players at world no.192 to win an ATP tournament. Mayer’s tennis career looked like ending 2 years ago, after an adductor injury sidelined him from active tennis. On Sunday however, the 32-year old Mayer beat his energetic and 13-year younger compatriot Alexander Zverev in three sets in only the second all-German final in the 24-year history of Halle. Zverev began promisingly by forcing Mayer to deuce in the opening game and holding his own serve at love next. However, Mayer soon changed all that. The veteran used a generous dose of lobs to catch Zverev off-guard and won the first set by breaking Zverev in sixth and eighth games. Zverev reversed the momentum in second set to force a decider. In the third set, the two Germans stayed on serves until the sixth game, when Mayer broke Zverev for a 4-2 lead. On his own serve next, he fought off to deny a break back to Zverev to make it 5-2 and finally closed out the match at 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 to win the Gerry Weber Open. The comeback man, thus denied Zverev to become the youngest ever title winner at Halle.