Andy Murray reached his second successive final after easing to a straight-sets victory against Lucas Pouille in the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome.
Murray was always in control and a 6-2, 6-1 victory in just 59 minutes continued his impressive form on clay ahead of the French Open, following his run to the final in Madrid last week.
Murray was facing Pouille for the first time, with the Frenchman only the second lucky loser to reach the last four of an ATP Masters event, and the gulf in class showed.
The world number 52 had lost in qualifying but Jo Wilfried-Tsonga’s withdrawal due to injury allowed him to take his place in the main draw, before a bye in the first round and a walkover in the quarter-finals meant he only won two matches to reach the semi-finals.
Murray took control when he battled back from 40-0 down to break serve in the fourth game and, after a short rain delay, he produced another break to close out the first set.
The players stayed on as light rain began to fall and Murray again broke serve in the fourth game of the second set before racing through the next three games, completing victory with an ace on his first match point.
The weather proved more of a challenge to Murray than his opponent and he was relieved to come through comfortably.
He told Sky Sports: “I think it’s the first time since I’ve been on the Tour when I haven’t had the chance to hit balls before we got on the court.
“It rained pretty much non-stop and then they flipped the schedule round and we ended up being on straight away when the rain stopped so I didn’t feel that comfortable coming out on the court.
“Obviously the break at 4-2 was tricky but he made quite a few mistakes and I served well to make it easy for myself.”
Murray has played against Pouille in practice and believes the 22-year-old has a bright future, adding: “He’s improving all the time. I think he’s going to be in the top 30 pretty much after this week and he’s going to be around for a long time.”