South Africa’s Kevin Anderson blitzed his way into his first Queen’s Club ATP final with 34 aces in a 6-3 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 win over French seventh seed Gilles Simon on Saturday.
Anderson’s lethal serve proved the decisive factor in a hard-fought semi-final at the Wimbledon warm-up event and the world No.17 will face either top seed Andy Murray or Serbia’s Viktor Troicki in Sunday’s final in west London.
The 29-year-old, who now has 96 aces in the tournament, will be appearing in his 10th tour-level final and his first on grass.
Anderson’s first final since he lost to Kei Nishikori in Memphis in February was secured in one hour and 52 minutes.
If he wins on Sunday it will be the Johannesburg-born star’s first ATP title since Delray Beach in 2012.
Anderson, who lives in the United States and plans to take dual U.S-South African citizenship later this year, had bludgeoned his way to the last four with 62 aces in his three matches and had dropped serve only once in his 40 service games.
French Open champion Stan Wawrinka and four-time Queen’s champion Lleyton Hewitt were among those unable to find a solution to the Anderson blitz.
Simon was in the Queen’s semi-finals for the first time after repelling a barrage of big serves from Canadian third seed Milos Raonic in the last eight, but he was unable to repeat that feat against Anderson.
After a delay of over an hour due to persistent drizzle, play finally got underway and it was Anderson who landed the first blow with a pair of sizzling forehand winners in the eighth game.
Those blistering strikes secured two break points and he converted the second when Simon’s forehand drifted long.
His potent serve ensured that would prove a fatal miscue by Simon as the South African easily closed out the set.
Another booming Anderson serve at 5-5 in the second set tie-break gave him a first match point, but he shanked a backhand well wide and then lost his composure as Simon reeled off three successive points to level the match.
Even that unexpected escape couldn’t provide Simon with the ammunition to breach Anderson’s impregnable serve.
The South African remained relentless and Simon eventually cracked with a mistake-filled eighth game that presented Anderson with a break and the opportunity to seal the win.