London | Lopez triumphs for a second time
Feliciano Lopez of Spain claimed his second title at Queen’s when he defeated a stubborn Gilles Simon of France, 6-2 6-7(4) 7-6(2) in the final of the Fever Tree Championships and, at 37-years of age, is now the oldest champion of the event during the Open era.
I thought the best moment of my career was when I held this trophy in 2017 but it's not. It's right now Feliciano Lopez
In addition Lopez is the first wildcard to win the important Wimbledon warm-up since Pete Sampras in 1999, and, at 113, is the lowest-ranked player to claim the title since 108th-ranked Australian Scott Draper in 1998.
But what is even more remarkable, is that he played just under 15-and-half-hours to win not just the singles, but then in partnership with Andy Murray, the doubles later that same day.
It was an exhausting week for both finalists. Simon, 34, had also endured a series of three set battles lasting some 10-hours to reach the final and one would have expected both players to feeling somewhat fatigued but not so, for, on joining battle, they provided an exciting match which did credit to the prestigious event.
“I don’t know how I did that,” said the now two-time champion on receiving the trophy.
“The whole match was very exciting. I took the early set but then he (Simon) got better and better. It was tough for me to find a way to win points.
“He was coming up with unbelievable shots and I was a bit desperate.
“I thought the best moment of my career was when I held this trophy in 2017 but it’s not. It’s right now.”
Lopez broke Simon in the first game of the match with his second break and looked to be in complete control as he broke Simon again to go 4-1 up, netting the first break point but clinching the second with a sublime volley.
The Spaniard took the first set with an ace, but Simon was quick to counter in the second set breaking the Spaniard for a 2-0 lead.
However, Lopez broke back immediately, and it remained on serve before a tie-break which featured a 33-stroke rally, decided the outcome in Simon’s favour.
The third set went with serve and Lopez should have closed it out when he held a match point in the 12th game only to net a service return but in the deciding tie-break he took early control to pocket the win.
While disappointed, Simon took the loss in his stride.
“I’m tired, of course,” said the 38th-ranked Frenchman. “It was long today. It was long every day. It was tough for ‘Feli’ and he has another final to play in a few minutes.
“It’s tough right now after such an amazing effort to try and stay in this match and (then) come back (for the doubles). ‘Feli’ is still fit and he’s a bit older than me so I hope I’ll have the chance to come back again.”