Five-star Andy Murray makes more history with record Queen's title
There will come a time when Andy Murray stops making history at almost every tournament he plays but for the moment the world No 2 is maintaining his rampage through the record books.
By beating Milos Raonic 6-7, 6-4, 6-3 here in the final of the Aegon Championships Murray became the first player to win this historic event five times.
The final had been billed in some quarters as a confrontation between Ivan Lendl, in his first tournament back as Murray's coach, and John McEnroe, in his first tournament as a member of Raonic's coaching entourage, but it was decided instead by the outcome of a shoot-out between one of the sport's best servers and one of its best returners.
Raonic, who uses every inch of his 6ft 5in frame to pepper opponents with thunderbolt serves, had not been broken all week and had held for 55 service games in succession until Murray finally unpicked the door which the 25-year-old Canadian appeared to have locked firmly behind him.
Having made his first break of serve midway through the second set, Murray went on to break the world No 9 four times.
With Wimbledon starting in eight days' time Murray could hardly be in better shape. He has now reached the final of his last four tournaments, which is the best sequence of his career, He has won two of them and lost to Novak Djokovic, the world No 1, in the final of the other two.
Having initially had little time to practise on grass in the wake of his run to the French Open final a fortnight ago, Murray has been unbeaten in five matches here, although he was taken to deciding sets in the last three.
Murray, who also won his first tournament with Lendl four years ago, said afterwards: "My best tennis is there. I'm happy with that. I came in with hardly any preparation so maybe my consistency could be better, but when I needed to this week, I stepped up and played my best tennis.
"That's a good sign. Obviously when Wimbledon comes around I'll be maybe a little bit more rested, and will have had a little bit more practice and preparation."
Every part of Murray's game looks to be in good order. The Scot always thought that the improvements he has made to his serve this year would be of particular benefit on grass and so it has proved. His forehand has been a potent weapon all week, while his clever variations of pace and spin continue to confound opponents.
Raonic, too, will have every reason for optimism going into Wimbledon, having proved that he is no one-trick pony. He volleys with more confidence than he used to, his shot selection is much improved and he moves well for a big man.
The big smile on Murray's face showed how much the triumph meant to him. By the time he went across to celebrate with his entourage Lendl had left the court, apparently to answer a call of nature. "It was nice of him to stick around for the presentations," Murray said with a smile during his post-match on-court interview.
Murray added: "Ivan was definitely happy with this week because of the way that I fought, the way that I played in the big moments and the preparation - getting five matches when I had literally zero preparation."
The Scot said "a few good returns" turned the match. "I capitalised on pretty much all the chances I had from there on in," he said. "I played some really good stuff today." At the Halle Open, meanwhile, Florian Mayer denied 19-year-old Alexander Zverev his first tour title when he beat his fellow German in the final. Mayer, who returned to competition in April after being sidelined for the best part of a year with a groin injury, said: "I wasn't sure I could play tennis six months ago so I am just really happy. It's the best feeling I've had on a tennis court."
Laura Robson's participation at Wimbledon could be in doubt after the 22-year-old Briton retired during her qualifying match at the Aegon International in Eastbourne with a thigh problem.
Robson, who has been struggling to climb back up the rankings following wrist surgery, began her match against Madison Brengle with her right thigh strapped and was trailing 6-4, 1-0 when she quit. Robson, who beat China's Yifan Xu 7-5, 7-6 in her first qualifying match, has been given a wild card into the draw at Wimbledon.
Madison Keys, who will break into the world's top 10 for the first time tomorrow, beat the Czech Republic's Barbora Strycova 6-3, 6-4 to win the Aegon Classic at Edgbaston. It was the 21-year-old American's first title of 2016.