Andy Murray is aiming to win his first title on grass since Wimbledon 2016, after reaching the final of the Surbiton Trophy.
Murray’s 7-6, 6-3 win over defending champion Jordan Thompson in Saturday’s semi-final set him up for what could prove a significant milestone in the Scot’s preparation for Wimbledon. It will be only the second final Murray has contested on grass since his monumental victory in 2016, following last year’s Stuttgart Open, where he hobbled off injured after losing to Matteo Berrettini.
Beyond the surface and the south-west London postcodes, Wimbledon and Surbiton could not be more different: one is the most illustrious event in the calendar, the other an ATP Challenger where the winner will take home less than £17,000. But the confidence a trophy can bring, plus adding another few ranking points to his tally, could prove priceless for Murray. He still has an outside chance of being seeded for Wimbledon, his ultimate aim for the season. He has chosen to skip Stuttgart, and will need to make up the ranking points he received for reaching the final there at Nottingham next week and Queen’s the week after.
“Obviously I want to try and win all of the tournaments I’m in, I’ve not played that much grass-court tennis since then, but I always feel like I’m capable of winning,” Murray said. “I got close last year in Stuttgart and was unfortunate in the final there. But it would be great to get another opportunity to try and win another title on grass.”
He previously lost to Thompson at Queen’s in 2017, just when his debilitating hip injury began to cause him problems, but he was well above the Australian’s level. After edging a tight first-set tiebreak, the turning point of the match came in a bizarre moment in the first game of the second. At deuce on Thompson’s serve, a member of the crowd called Murray’s line-hugging forehand “out”, and caused confusion all round.
Murray screamed “no” as he knew the shot was good, but did so just as Thompson was returning. Murray won the point, but the Australian argued that he had hindered his shot, as the Briton called out when the point was still live. The umpire, Robert Balmforth, quite harshly disagreed and put Murray up a break point. Then, just as they began disputing the issue, a brief, heavy shower pelted Centre Court on what was otherwise a hot, sunny day. Thompson was thrown and, after five minutes of waiting for the court to dry, the players returned and Murray broke serve and remained ahead until he closed out the match.
“You could argue it affected him because I broke in that game,” Murray said of the incident. “I felt like I was in a good position before that but he was obviously frustrated and then when I got the break he would have been thinking about it.” Murray will play Austria’s Jurij Rodionov, the world No 134, in the final.
Earlier in the day, Katie Swan reached her first grass-court final with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over compatriot Lily Miyazaki – and could well become the British No 1. On live rankings, Katie Boulter is top. But in losing her semi-final to Yanina Wickmayer 6-3 6-2, Boulter left the door open for British No 5 Swan to clinch the top spot if she wins the final on Sunday.
It would be a remarkable turn of events because, at the beginning of the week, there were three women more likely than Swan to replace Emma Raducanu as No 1.
“Getting to British No 1 would be an amazing achievement,” Swan said afterwards. “But I will take it – if I win the tournament and get to No 1, I don’t mind. Everyone is doing their best and I suspect that the No 1 spot is going to fluctuate quite a lot.”