Rain, after a week of excellent weather, finally arrived to play its part in disrupting play at the Aegon Championships at Queen’s but didn’t prevent the singles semi-finals from being completed leaving Marin Cilic and Fernando Lopez to contest the title match on Sunday.
Marin has been playing unbelievable and is also a great grass-court player, so I think I have to play my best tennis if I want to win Fernando Lopez
Fourth seed Cilic battled past Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 6-3 5-7 6-4 following an hour’s delay to the original order of play, while Lopez came through 7-5 3-6 6-2 after an interrupted encounter with Grigor Dimitrov in the other half of the draw later on Centre Court.
It was the second match on Centre Court which attracted the greatest interest as the two had clashed in the final, three years earlier when Dimitrov went on to become champion in 2014.
So the 35-year-old Spanish veteran, was more than delighted to avenge that loss and will have to maintain his form if he is to make an impression on Cilic on Sunday.
Lopez was able to capitalise on a series of Dimitrov errors in the 11th game of the first set to break before holding serve with ease. Then a rain delay midway through the second set broke his rhythm and on their return, Dimitrov was the quicker off the mark as he leveled the match but Lopez was not to be denied as he cruised through the decider to eliminate the xixth seed.
“It’s a gift to be in this final again,” the unseeded Lopez said after his victory. “I think the first set was the best I’ve played all week” but he knows the final will be tough, adding: “Marin has been playing unbelievable and is also a great grass-court player, so I think I have to play my best tennis if I want to win.”
Earlier Cilic, who dropped a set for the first time in the week, wrapped up the opening set quickly and had he converted break points in the third or seventh games of the second set he would have maintained his unblemished record into the final.
Instead, one lapse of concentration at 5-6 blotted provided the veteran from Luxembourg to snatch the second set and level.
However Mullers chances of upsetting Cilic were quickly extinguished in the decider with the Croat delivering a second-serve ace to claim the place in the final.
“Today’s match was a really high level,” said the world number seven who is coached by former grasscourt specialist Jonas Bjorkman.
“I played really well throughout and Gilles was pushing me to the limits. I’ve felt really good on serve all week and today I was mixing it up and playing smart.”
The one worry for him is that his doubles semi-final in which he was partnering Marcin Matkowski against Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares was not finished because of rain, meaning he faces a busy schedule on Sunday.
Meanwhile in Halle the top seed Roger Federer booked his place in the final of the Gerry Weber Open for the 11th time after seeing off Russian Karen Khachanov 6-4 7-6(5). The veteran Swiss, who is looking to win what would be an eighth Wimbledon title next month, will play Alexander Zverev after the German fourth seed came from behind to beat Richard Gasquet of France 4-6 6-4 6-3.