Lopez/Murray Double Their Pleasure To Reach Queen's Club Final
Andy Murray arrived at the Fever-Tree Championships with no expectations for his first tournament back after hip surgery, but he’s now one match from leaving with the doubles title.
Murray and Feliciano Lopez completed a busy Saturday by reaching the final with a 7-5, 6-7(5), 10-7 win over third seeds Henri Kontinen and John Peers. Earlier in the day, Lopez/Murray won their darkness-delayed quarter-final over Daniel Evans and Ken Skupski 6-4, 7-6(3). Lopez/Murray led 6-4, 4-5 when play was suspended on Friday night.
“I didn't know what to expect and obviously I had a tough draw as well, playing the top seeds (Cabal/Farah) in the first match and never played with Feli before,” said Murray. “I think things have probably got a little bit better with each match… I didn’t expect to be playing in the final, that’s for sure.”
The Brit is into his first ATP Tour doubles final since reaching the 2013 Montreal championship match with Colin Fleming (l. to Peya/Soares). He seeks his first doubles title since prevailing with brother Jamie Murray at Tokyo in 2011 (d. Cermak/Polasek).
Lopez scored his third win of the day with the semi-final victory over Kontinen/Peers. The 37-year-old Spaniard started his Saturday by defeating Felix Auger-Aliassime in three sets to reach the singles final.
“He did brilliant. Not just in the way he played, but in the way he carried himself at the end of the match. Big energy. Was getting pumped,” said Murray. “It was cool for me to see that. He's been on the tour for 20 years and I appreciate that he's got a big final in singles to play tomorrow and it's getting dark and late, second day in a row. He did really, really well. It was a great effort from him."
Lopez/Murray and Kontinen/Peers traded service holds until 5-5 in the first set, when Peers pushed a forehand volley long to drop serve. An ace from Murray on set point gave his team the early advantage.
Down 1-4, 0/40 in the second set, Lopez/Murray completed a remarkable turnaround by winning 12 consecutive points. A return winner from Murray on Kontinen’s serve at 5-5 gave the Brit an opportunity to serve out the match, but he couldn’t convert. Kontinen/Peers completed another great escape in the tie-break, rallying from 1/3 to force a Match Tie-break.
With the crowd firmly in Lopez/Murray’s corner, the Spaniard rifled a backhand passing shot for a 4/2 lead in the Match Tie-break. The unseeded duo maintained their slight advantage and prevailed in one hour and 44 minutes.
Awaiting Lopez/Murray in Sunday’s championship match are Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury, who defeated fourth seeds Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan 7-6(4), 7-6(8). They saved two set points in the second-set tie-break at 5/6 and 7/8 before advancing in one hour and 29 minutes.
Ram/Salisbury are through to their third ATP Tour doubles final this season. They prevailed in Dubai (d. McLachlan/Struff) and finished runner-up in Brisbane (l. to Daniel/Koolhof).
“It's obviously been an amazing event with Andy coming back here. It’s great to see him back and great for the sport and especially great for doubles having him in the tournament,” said Salisbury. “If I wasn't playing Andy, I'd get a bit more support in the final!
“I have won two [ATP] 500 titles before, but I think this would be extra special and an even bigger title just because of the fact I'm playing at home… I’m sure it will be a great experience in the final no matter what happens.”