Andy Roddick’s hopes of a fifth Queen’s Club title ended painfully on Saturday when the American limped out midway through the first set of his all-American semi-final against James Blake with a right ankle injury.
Roddick’s injury setback, nine days before Wimbledon, handed Blake a final showdown with Britain’s Andy Murray.
The top seed stood one match away from his first grasscourt title after hustling past Spain’s Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-2, 6-4.
Second seed Roddick had high hopes of facing Murray yesterday but it all went wrong in the final point of the third game against Blake.
Stranded at the net, Roddick quickly turned around to chase down a Blake lob and hit the ball between his legs.
He even laughed when his effort failed to win him the point, but absentmindedly continued to walk towards the back of the court and sprained his ankle between the raised border of the grass surface and the concrete surrounding it.
The American winced and then opted to test his ankle by applying pressure to it before resuming the contest.
After Blake held for a 4-3 lead, Roddick took a medical time out to have the ankle strapped but he continued to shake his head as he put his shoes back on.
The 26-year-old held his serve in the next game before informing the umpire that he was unable to continue.
Roddick had looked to be in good form heading into Wimbledon and was optimistic he would regain his fitness by the time the championships starts next Monday.
“There’s a difference in height between where the grass court ends and where the concrete goes, and I just unfortunately stepped at a bad angle. It kind of just twisted a little bit. Running straight ahead I was all right, side to side was suspect,” Roddick said. “I’m going to do everything I can to play at Wimbledon. I’m not walking in here saying I’m going to be out six weeks or anything like that. We’re looking at days, not weeks.”
Murray’s only drama was when he bashed his knuckles against his racket to leave a trail of blood streaking down his shorts.
But that did not stop the top seed from outwitting Ferrero with an assortment of angles, spins and power.
He can now become the first British champion at the west London club since Bunny Austin in 1938 before carrying his country’s hopes at Wimbledon.
Former world No. 1 Ferrero, now ranked 90th, had dropped only one set en route to contesting his first grasscourt semi-final.
■GERRY WEBER OPEN
AFP, HALLE, GERMANY
World No. 4 Novak Djokovic booked his place in the final of the Gerry Weber Open with an error-strewn 7-6 (9/7), 6-4 win over qualifier Olivier Rochus on Saturday.
Having blasted his way past Austria’s Jurgen Melzer in Friday’s quarter-final, Djokovic was far from assured in the semi-final against a player ranked No. 136 in the world, but finally won through to his second grasscourt final.
Having raced to a 4-1 lead in the first set, Djokovic faltered badly to allow the Belgian to level and force a tie-break.
It was a similar story in the second set as the Serb star seemed to be in control, only to allow Rochus to force his way back.
Having earned four match points, Djokovic wasted three before he finally won through after nearly two hours to reach his second grasscourt final, having lost to Rafael Nadal at Queen’s last year.
Haas secured his passage to the final after the former world No. 2 came out on top against compatriot Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Haas staged a remarkable fight-back after losing the first set, holding his nerve to win tie-breaks in the two final sets before claiming a 2-6, 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/3) victory.
Having climbed to second in the world rankings in 2002, Haas is on his way back after a serious shoulder injury.
He continues his good form after his best showing for seven years at last week’s French Open, when he reached the fourth round and took eventual champion Roger Federer to five sets having held a two-set lead.
AFP, BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND
Maria Sharapova’s Wimbledon build-up suffered a setback on Saturday when she was knocked out of the Aegon Classic grasscourt event 6-4, 6-4 by China’s Li Na.
Sharapova, the Aegon champion in 2004 and 2005, is still feeling her way back after more than 10 months out with a shoulder injury and she showed signs of a quick revival by reaching the French Open quarter-finals.
But the unseeded Russian was plagued by errors on Saturday, suffering six breaks of serve in her 90-minute defeat.
Li, the fourth seed, was to face Slovakian 13th seed Magdalena Rybarikova in yesterday’s final. Rybarikova beat India’s Sania Mirza 3-6, 6-0, 6-3.
It will be Rybarikova’s first final, her best results before this week being semi-finals at Tashkent last year and at Hobart and Pattaya City earlier this year.
Li has been to five singles finals previously, winning Guangzhou in 2004 and Gold Coast last year and finishing runner-up three times.
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