The clash between two teams relegated from the Premier League 12 months ago featured very little in the way of goalmouth action, with Wigan’s Marc-Antoine Fortune spurning the best chance in the second half.
Harry Redknapp’s Rangers will be the happier with the result and will hope to take advantage in their home leg on Monday night.
Wigan were playing their 61st game of the season after European and FA Cup exploits and looking to secure a fifth trip to Wembley in little over a year against either Derby or Brighton.
The play-offs do not hold happy memories for either club or manager, with Wigan unsuccessful in all three previous attempts while Uwe Rosler lost the League One final last season with Brentford.
The Latics also claimed only one point from a possible six in two games against QPR during the regular season – Yossi Benayoun’s winner at Loftus Road in March being the only goal in either match.
Rosler declared in the build-up he would not become involved in “pressure bingo” after Redknapp and Derby’s Steve McClaren both tried to foist favouritism on others.
But Rosler was eager to point out Rangers’ large wage bill, which he described as three times larger than his club’s.
It was no surprise that the first half was tight and tetchy, with more yellow cards than sights of goal.
Wigan defender Gary Caldwell spurned an early chance, placing a free header from a corner tamely into the arms of Robert Green.
QPR’s first opening came in the 14th minute when Gary O’Neil found space for a shot just inside the box but James McArthur produced an excellent block.
The tackles were robust and when Richard Dunne was booked for felling Callum McManaman in the 23rd minute the only surprise was that referee Mike Jones had kept his cards in his pocket for as long as he had.
A minute later McManaman and McArthur were both booked for fouls within seconds of each other.
The luckiest man on the pitch may well have been Clint Hill, though, who appeared to elbow Rob Kiernan in an incident early in the game that neither referee nor crowd spotted.
Wigan were the team doing most of the pressing but QPR did occasionally threaten on the break, with Armand Traore heading Junior Hoilett’s cross over in the 37th minute.
Caldwell was looking to create openings with long balls and he did just that five minutes later, picking out Wigan’s player of the year Jordi Gomez, who chested the ball beyond a defender but fired a volley straight at Green.
Rangers came out fired up for the second half and goalkeeper Scott Carson was twice called into action, first punching away a Hill cross under pressure from Charlie Austin and then keeping out a low Traore shot with his fingertips.
But Wigan weathered the storm and really should have scored in the 62nd minute.
The ball ricocheted around the penalty area before Kiernan’s drilled ball fell perfectly for Fortune, who could only blaze over an open goal from eight yards.
Both sides made changes, with Kevin Doyle and Niko Kranjcar coming on for QPR and Nicky Maynard and Martyn Waghorn for Wigan, but neither team could make the breakthrough.