Queen’s Championships | Lopez does it at last
David Musgrove photography
There were great concerns that with the early departures from Queen’s of the big names, the Aegon Championships had lost its appeal. This might well have been the initial reaction but as the week progressed spectators will have no doubt, been surprised at the level of entertainment which the supporting cast have provided culminating in what was an excellent final.
Wow, I cannot believe I have finally won this trophy Feliciano Lopez
The title favourite Marin Cilic the fourth seed and the champion of Queen’s in 2012 with new coach Jonas Bjorkman, produced some excellent grass court tennis to make the title round but just failed to derail his unseeded opponent, Fernando Lopez, who at 35 years of age was determined to become champion having just failed to do so three years ago when he held a match point against Grigor Dimitrov.
Lopez battled back from a set down and saved a match point in the deciding tiebreak to win 4-6 7-6(2) 7-6(8) against the Croat, to whom he lost in straight sets at the French Open last month.
The Spaniard who, ranked world No32, also knocked out the world No3 Stan Wawrinka on Tuesday, is enjoying an Indian summer as far as his career is concerned with his bending left-handed serve and sliced backhands being used to great effect on the grass.
“Wow, I cannot believe I have finally won this trophy,” a broadly smiling Lopez said. “It was tough to put that match (against Dimitrov three years ago) away from my mind. I was serving for the match again and it was difficult to handle my nerves. I was waiting so long, so I’m so happy today.”
Having shared the first two sets the intensity levels rose dramatically in the decider with Cilic showing more nerves than his Lopez as the third set crept it way to another tie break.
The momentum was very mush with Lopez as was the crowd by now willing on the underdog and he responded ell at one point, whipping away a winning forehand off balance an on one foot for a 5-4 lead only for Cilic to respond with a passing shot landing just inside the baseline for 5-all.
A big serve gave Cilic match point but Lopez saved it with a reaching volley and then released an ace for his own championship point which Cilic save with another ace for 7-all but he then missed a forehand to hand Lopez his second match point, this time on his serve.
A punching Cilic volley, however, snuffed that out but Lopez opened up 9-8 and match point number three with an ace which was converted when Cilic responded by landing a forehand wide much to Lopez’s relief.
Meanwhile in Halle, Roger Federer claimed his ninth Gerry Weber Open title to set up a new record when he defeated Alexander Zverev 6-1 6-3.
It was the Swiss’s 140th career final and he faced just one break point while converting four of his own eight opportunities to clinch his 92nd career title in 53-minutes to set himself up for his campaign to annex his 8th Wimbledon title over the coming fortnight.
“I played unbelievably well. I felt good and never let up,” said the 35-year-old Federer, who dropped just nine points on his serve. “It was my best game this week. Nearly everything worked out for me.”