ANDY MURRAY defeated Nick Kyrgios to reach his first major grass tournament final in SIX YEARS.
Muzza will play Italian serving machine Matteo Berrettini in the Stuttgart Open final on Sunday, just two weeks before the start of Wimbledon. It will be Muzza’s 70th Tour final.
Murray, 35, hasn’t been this far on his preferred surface since winning his second Wimbledon title in 2016.
Kyrgios received a point penalty for smashing his racket on the ground and against the chair after losing the first set on a tie-break.
The Australian, 27, tried to break his racket again after being broken on his serve at the start of the second set due to a double fault, and walked off enraged.
The no-nonsense umpire assessed him a game penalty, meaning he was 2-0 down and forfeited a game, while the tournament supervisor was summoned to try to calm down the enraged world No. 78.
Kyrgios later claimed on Instagram that he lost his cool after being subjected to vile racist abuse from the crowd.
“When will this be over?” he wondered. Having racial slurs hurled at you from the crowd?
“I understand that my behavior isn’t always the best — but comments like ‘you little BLACK SHEEP,”shut up and play,’ are NOT ACCEPTABLE.” I get punished if I retaliate against the crowd. “This isn’t working.”
“It’s been a long road since the last final, a few years, and a lot of ups and downs,” Murray said of his victory.
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“But I persisted, I worked hard, and I eventually made it to another one.”
“As a result, I’m pleased and proud of the effort I made to return there.
“In the tie-break, I was a little bit more consistent, I made a lot of returns,” he said when asked the question.
“Sets often come down to one or two points on these courts when it’s playing fast.”
“At the end of the first set, I felt a little more solid and secure.” The first set was excellent in every way.
“I didn’t have to work as hard in the second set because Nick was frustrated.
“On the court, you’re constantly battling both yourself and your opponent.” Individual sports are difficult because of this.
“Look, there is no doubt in my mind that Nick has the potential to be one of the best players in the world.
“However, he became enraged and made it a lot easier for me.”
“I’m delighted to have made it to the final.” This week, I’ve been playing well and have a great chance to play Matteo.”
Murray, who lost in the final of the Australian Open in January, will be looking for his third title since undergoing hip surgery in January to save his career, following the Queen’s doubles title and the European Open in Antwerp.
Berrettini, a Wimbledon finalist last year, could face Murray in the second round of Queen’s this week after recovering from a long hand injury that required surgery.
Murray will play Italian Lorenzo Sonego in the first round, while Berrettini will face British No 2 Dan Evans.
Cameron Norrie, meanwhile, plays Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in the Last 32 of the Cinch Championships, which begin on Monday in south-west London.
Liam Broady, a wildcard, takes on Croatian Marin Cilic, who reached the semi-finals of the French Open, and Jack Draper, a youngster, takes on American No. 4 seed Taylor Fritz.
Casper Ruud, who lost to Rafa Nadal in the French Open final last weekend in Paris, is the No. 1 seed and will face British wildcard Ryan Peniston in the first round.