Andy Murray eased into the final of the Nottingham Open after defeating Portugal’s Nuno Borges in straight sets to continue his winning streak.
The 36-year-old is bidding to win a second successive title on the second-tier Challenger Tour having triumphed in Surbiton last week and is yet to drop a set in Nottingham.
Murray carried his red-hot form into Saturday’s meeting with Portuguese Borges, ranked 73, to win 6-3 6-2 in an hour and 12 minutes.
It completed another memorable day for the home players after Katie Boulter and Jodie Burrage set up a very rare all-British final in the WTA event.
Murray broke Borges’ serve at the first opportunity and was clinical in the first set. The only blip came when he dropped serve after breaking early in the second but he put it behind him quickly and won the final four games.
“I thought the start of the match was really good,” said Murray. “The second set was quite scrappy I think from both ends.
“The second set wasn’t so good but the first set was high level, I was really happy with it. You’re not going to play your best all the time. There are going to be blips and I managed to deal with it OK.”
It is now four years since Murray returned to action following his hip resurfacing operation and he is pushing to be seeded at a Grand Slam for the first time since then at Wimbledon in two weeks’ time.
“I probably wish I’d dropped down and played more at this level sooner,” said Murray. “I did play a few Challengers when I came back but maybe I should have stayed there a little bit longer.
“I’ve won against three or four top-100 players in this run. There’s been some good wins against experienced grass-court players.
“For me physically and mentally to get used to being in this situation more again has been really helpful. Now it’s up to me to try and carry that on at the higher level over the next few weeks.”
Murray to break into top 40
Murray will return to the top 40 on Monday but will need more wins at Queen’s Club next week to earn a Wimbledon seeding and the concern could be the number of matches he has played in a short amount of time.
He played down those worries, though, saying: “Yes, you could say number of matches is what’s important but it’s also the nature of those matches.
“Today’s match was an hour and a quarter and was not a particularly physical match.
“If I was training at Queen’s, I would have been on the practice court for a couple of hours today and I would have been in the gym.
“There’s obviously the mental stress of the matches and competing but quite a few of the matches have been pretty quick. Physically I feel fine just now.”
Murray will play Frenchman Arthur Cazaux, ranked No 181 in the world, in Sunday’s final after the 20-year-old defeated Dominik Koepfer 7-5 6-2.
“I’ve played a lot of youngsters recently and it’s always tough,” said Murray. “We practised with each other recently so hopefully not too many surprises.”