Andy Murray makes Stuttgart final but Kyrgios rages at ‘racial slur from crowd’

Andy Murray looked back to his best on grass as he beat Nick Kyrgios 7-6 (5), 6-2 to move into the final of the Stuttgart Open after the Australian lost his cool in the second set and said he was racially abused by a fan.

The final is the 70th of Murray’s career and his second of the year after a runner-up finish in Sydney in January. The 35-year-old will face Matteo Berrettini, the No 2 seed, who is playing his first Tour-level final of the season.

After an entertaining opening set where there was nothing to separate the two players, Murray sealed it in the tie‑break after which Kyrgios broke his racket and earned a point penalty as well as a game penalty in the second set. The Australian, who was constantly complaining to the umpire, then refused to continue playing, sitting in his chair until the supervisor came out and convinced him to finish the match.

A frustrated Kyrgios later said that he had retaliated after hearing a racial slur. “When is this going to stop? Dealing with racial slurs from the crowd?” he wrote on Instagram.

“I understand that my behaviour isn’t the best all the time – but ‘you little black sheep’, ‘shut up and play’ – little comments like this are not acceptable. When I retaliate to the crowd, I get penalised. This is messed up.”

After an absorbing opening set, where Kyrgios had even got the crowd going with an underarm serve and shots between his legs, he lost his focus in the second and made numerous errors as Murray quickly wrapped up the match and sealed his spot in the final.

Murray, whose last Tour title came in 2019 in Antwerp, was sympathetic in his on-court interview, saying that he did not have to work as hard in the second set after a “high quality” opener. “You’re always kind of battling yourself as well as the opponent, it’s one of the difficult things about individual sports,” Murray, who has not dropped a set in the tournament, said.

“Nick has the potential to be one of the best players in the world, there’s absolutely no question about that. But yeah, he obviously got very frustrated in the second set and made it a lot easier for me.

“But look, I’m happy to be in the final. I’ve played well this week and I’ve got a great opportunity against Matteo tomorrow.”

Andy Murray signs autographs after his win against Australia’s Nick Kyrgios
Andy Murray signs autographs after his win against Australia’s Nick Kyrgios in Stuttgart. Photograph: Tom Weller/AP

Murray will play Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego in the first round of the Cinch Championship at Queen’s, which starts on Monday. He will be bidding for his fifth title as he continues his preparations for Wimbledon.

The British No 1, Cam Norrie, takes on Bulgaria’s former Wimbledon semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov and Dan Evans faces Berrettini, the defending champion. Ryan Peniston, the British No 7, has been handed a tough opening-round draw as he plays the top seed and French Open runner-up, Casper Ruud.

Alison Riske booked her place in the Rothesay Open final in Nottingham with a three-set win over Viktorija Golubic. Riske had ended British No 3 Harriet Dart’s hopes in the quarter-finals and had to work hard to secure a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 victory.

Riske was made to work hard for the win and now plays Beatriz Haddad Maia in the final after the Brazilian won her semi-final when Tereza Martincova was forced to retire. Haddad Maia took the first set 6-3, before Martincova was forced to leave the court at 4-1 down in the second.

Iga Swiatek will skip this coming week’s Berlin Open because of a shoulder problem but the French Open champion said she hopes to be fully fit for Wimbledon. Poland’s world No 1 defeated American Coco Gauff 6-1, 6-3 in the Roland Garros final last week to win her second grand slam title.