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 retirement threw his Wimbledon hopes into disarray, with that tournament only nine days away, and handed Blake a final showdown with British top seed Andy Murray.
The world number three 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 on Sunday 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 absent-mindedly continued to walk towards the back of the court and sprained his ankle between the raised border of the grass surface and the concrete surround.
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, which starts on June 22.
"I saw him pull up a little goofy on one shot at the end of the third game. It's a little slippery and I think he went over on it and it's really unfortunate," Blake said courtside.
"The way he's playing he's got a chance to win Wimbledon so... he wouldn't want to endanger that any more."
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 former world number one 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.
"Happy to win in straight sets... it's been a good week and hopefully it can continue tomorrow," Murray, who dropped only five points on serve in the opening set, said courtside.
Ferrero, now ranked 90th in the world, had dropped only one set en route to contesting his first grasscourt semi-final but Murray was quick to expose his weaknesses.
A searing passing shot winner earned Murray a break point in the opening game and the 29-year-old Spaniard promptly dropped his serve by scooping a backhand into the net seconds later.
The Scot appeared to be floating around the sun-bathed Centre Court as he hit winners at will to take the opening set in just 28 minutes.
Ferrero looked destined for a walloping when he went down 0-40 in the opening game of the second set. A couple of Murray errors allowed him to claw back in that game but the Scot eventually trapped him to break for a 4-3 lead.
Five minutes later it was all over for Ferrero and Murray was left to lap up the applause as he became the first home-grown player to reach the final since Tim Henman in 2002.