Andy Murray’s quest to trump Australian champion Lleyton Hewitt and claim a record fifth Queen’s Club title faces the giant hurdle of Canadian third seed Milos Raonic.
The world No.2 is currently one of eight players – including Hewitt – to have won the traditional Wimbledon lead-in event four times.
He says it would be a great honour to become the first five-time winner but acknowledges the challenge presented by Raonic, who dumped Australia’s top-two-ranked men from Queen’s this week.
Having thrashed world No.18 Nick Kyrgios in the opening round, Raonic claimed a second Australian scalp with a straight-sets semi-final victory over a resurgent Bernard Tomic on Saturday.
Armed with a monster serve – and in his first tournament under the tutelage of seven-times grand slam winner John McEnroe – Raonic is a major roadblock in Murray’s charge.
But Murray will be taking into the match additional motivation.
“It would mean a lot (to be the first to win a fifth title). A lot of great players have played here over the years, and winning any tournament a few times is hard obviously,” said Murray, who advanced with a 6-3 4-6 6-3 win over Marin Cilic.
“But this one in particular has always got a very strong field – it’s a tough event to win.
“I’m glad I have given myself the opportunity to try and win again tomorrow. It would be nice to get a fifth title, for sure.”
Later, two moments of madness cost Tomic dearly in the second set, when he first misjudged a deep return from Raonic which landed on the line – but Tomic chose to leave to offer up break point.
An optimistic challenge merely confirmed Tomic’s error in judgment and he compounded the matter by double-faulting to hand Raonic the crucial break and give up a 3-2 advantage.
It was all the giant Canadian needed and he surged home with 12 aces to join Murray in Sunday’s final.
“Even at the beginning of the match where maybe I didn’t get ahead in his service games, I felt like I was on the right track to get the things going,” Raonic said.
“And then when I found some footing, hit a few extra balls, I feel like it went my way.”