ANDY MURRAY benefited from another madcap Nick Kyrgios meltdown to reach a first major grass final for SIX YEARS.
Just two weeks before the start of Wimbledon, Muzza will face Italian serving machine Matteo Berrettini tomorrow in the finale of the Stuttgart Open – the 70th Tour final of his amazing career.
It is the furthest he has been on his favourite surface since winning a second Wimbledon crown in 2016.
Yet the 7-6 6-2 victory over wild Australian Kyrgios owed much to his opponent’s characteristically wayward behaviour on court, which usually undermines his enormous talent.
After losing the first set on a tie-break, Kyrgios was told off by the umpire and then received a point penalty for smashing his racket on the ground and against the chair.
After a double fault saw him broken on his serve at the start of the second set, the Aussie, 27, tried to break his racket again and walked off raging.
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The no-nonsense umpire gave him a GAME PENALTY which meant he forfeited a game and was 2-0 down.
The tournament supervisor was then called to try to calm down the fuming world No.78.
Murray, 35, said: “It has been a long road since the last final, it has been a few years, a lot of ups and downs.
“But I kept going, I kept working and finally managed to get to another one.
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“So, I’m happy and proud of the effort I put in to get back there.
“I was a little bit more solid in the tie-break, I made a lot of returns, asked the question of him.
“On these courts when it is playing quick, the sets often come down to one or two points.
“I was a little bit more solid and secure at the end of the first set. The first set was high quality.
“In the second set, Nick was very frustrated, and I didn’t have to work as hard.
“You are always battling yourself on court as well as the opponent. It’s one of the difficult things about individual sports.
“Look, Nick has the potential to be one of the best players in the world, there is absolutely no question about that.
“But he obviously got very frustrated and made it a lot easier for me.
“I’m happy to be in the final. I have played well this week and got a great opportunity against Matteo.”
Murray, who lost in a final in Sydney in January, will be searching for just his third title since the hip surgery that saved his career at the start of 2019, following on from the Queen’s doubles title and European Open in Antwerp.
Last year’s Wimbledon finalist Berrettini, who is returning from a lengthy hand injury that required surgery, could also face Murray in the second round of Queen’s this week.
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That would require both of them to win their opening round matches – Murray takes on Italian Lorenzo Sonego while Berrettini has been drawn against British No 2 Dan Evans.
Elsewhere at the Cinch Championships, which start on Monday in south-west London, Cameron Norrie plays Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in the Last 32.
Wildcard Liam Broady tackles Croatian Marin Cilic, who lost in the French Open semi-finals, and youngster Jack Draper is up against American No.4 seed Taylor Fritz.
Norwegian Casper Ruud, who was defeated by Rafa Nadal in last weekend’s French Open final in Paris, begins his campaign as the No.1 seed versus British wildcard Ryan Peniston.
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