Andy Murray mounted a stirring comeback from a set and a break down to defeat Milos Raonic 6-7(6) 6-4 6-3 in the final of the Aegon Championships for a record fifth title at Queen’s.
Murray lost the first set on a tie-break and found himself staring down the barrel of defeat at 3-0 down in the second, but the world number two summoned up all his powers of resistance to win eight of the next nine games.
Raonic, the world number nine, had suddenly seen his trademark serve desert him and Murray broke in the first game of the third set, holding his nerve to win the match and surpass Boris Becker, Lleyton Hewitt, Andy Roddick, Roy Emerson and John McEnroe with his fifth win at the tournament.
At 25, Raonic may be a coming force in men’s tennis, but Murray ultimately outclassed the Canadian to give himself the perfect springboard heading into Wimbledon, and a first trophy in the second spell of returning coach Ivan Lendl, who was appointed ahead of Queen's.
"To win here for a fifth time means a lot to me," said Murray. "Obviously [it was] a good first week back together [with Lendl] and thanks to my whole team over there."
Raonic had won all 47 service games going into the final and, as expected, the opening set saw both men quickly exchange games, giving up precious few opportunities. Murray at one stage enjoyed a run of 15 straight points on his own serve in a set which featured some enterprising tennis but little in the way of genuine drama – that is until the tie-break which would decide it.
Murray lost the very first point to hand a mini-break to Raonic and after digging deep and finally striking against the Raonic serve to make it 5-5 with a mini-break of his own, Murray was left smacking his racquet in frustration after the world number nine wrapped it up 8-6 after winning a point on the Murray serve.
The home favourite had had his feet whipped out from underneath him and he struggled to steady himself as Raonic opened up a 3-0 lead in the second set, having secured the first break of serve in the match with some accomplished shotmaking.
Murray’s backhand was failing to find the target while Raonic was sending him to all corners of the court with his intelligent manipulation of the ball during rallies. But just when it seemed as though Murray was fighting a losing battle, he was back in it courtesy of a sensational comeback.
Raonic had not been broken all tournament, for 55 games in fact, but Murray was ruthless after carving out his first break point of the match, having got to deuce at 3-1 down, with a superb angled return pulling him back to 3-2. Soon enough it was 4-3 to Murray as he held and then broke Raonic again for his fourth game in a row.
Raonic stemmed the bleeding by holding for 5-4 but Murray saw out the set to complete a rousing comeback. The momentum was now his.
Raonic’s serve had been so certain throughout the week but suddenly it was crumbling. Murray made inroads again in the first game of the third set and broke for the third time when pushing Raonic around the court in an epic rally and finishing him off with a classic drop shot. A subsequent hold meant Murray had won eight of nine games.
From then on Murray gave Raonic barmely a sniff on his serve. The class and experience of the second favourite for Wimbledon shone through and he approaches his home Grand Slam in useful form.