Lopez to face Cilic in Queen’s final
Originally published on 24/06/17 00:00
The veteran Spaniard continues to excel on grass and he used his variety and guile to squeeze past his Bulgarian opponent in a rain-interrupted contest. It was a fascinating duel filled with creativity and fine shotmaking and Lopez will play Marin Cilic in Sunday’s final.
The key moment in the opener arrived in the 11th game. Dimitrov dropped serve after failing to execute a makeable backhand passing-shot and Lopez grabbed the lead and the first set.
The 2014 champion responded well in the second set and he was able to battle back into contention after securing a break and a 5-3 lead. He became more proactive in the baseline exchanges and his serve helped him prolong the semi-final.
Lopez had survived an energy-sapping quarter-final match with Tomas Berdych but he showed little sign of tiredness as he went through the gears in the decider. He targeted the Dimitrov backhand and it proved to be a winning tactic.
The Bulgarian was constantly in trouble on serve and in the sixth game he finally cracked. The 26-year-old missed a routine forehand volley and it proved to be fatal mistake as Lopez galloped over the finishing line.
“I am so happy to be in the final,” said the weary looking Spaniard. “This is one of the most special tournaments of the year for me. I’ve wanted to win this tournament so badly my whole career and tomorrow I will have another chance.
“I knew it was going to be a tough match against Grigor. We had a great battle in the 2014 final so I knew it was going to be difficult again. I think I was playing some of my best tennis of the week today so hopefully I can keep rolling tomorrow.”
In the first semi-final of the day, Cilic defeated Gilles Muller 6-3 5-7 6-3 as his fine form continues.
The Croatian had to wait patiently for his opportunity to strike in the third set however he got the break of serve he craved in the seventh game and powered his way into the championship match.
Neither Cilic nor Muller had dropped serve on their way through to the last four so a tight contest was anticipated. The first five games ticked by without incident but the Croatian snatched the initiative with a well-directed backhand passing-shot in the seventh game.
With a hard-earned break secured, Cilic was soon just a set away from reaching his third final at Queen’s Club. Muller, who won a grass-court title at the Ricoh Open in s-Hertogenbosch last week, was struggling to keep the rampant Croatian at bay.
Muller showed great resolve to cling on to his serve in the early stages of the second set. It was a gritty performance from the Luxembourger and he was able to force an unlikely decider when Cilic surprisingly faltered in the 12th game.
The Cilic serve had been breached for the first time in the tournament however he did not appear overly concerned. He was the dominant player in the decider and he deservedly made it through to Sunday's finale.
“It’s amazing to get through to the final especially considering the match today was an extremely high level,” said the 2012 winner. “I was playing really well throughout the whole match and Gilles was pushing me to the limit.
“It was not easy to keep calm after not converting any of the break-points in the second set and then losing it. In the beginning of the third [set], I had 0-40 and lost that game but eventually I got the break and really played a great match.”
Elsewhere, Roger Federer is into an 11th final at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle after a 6-4 7-6(5) win over Karen Khachanov. The 35-year-old stumbled when serving for the match in the second set but he regrouped in the tiebreak and made it through.
The Swiss will play Alexander Zverev in the final on Sunday. The young German defeated Richard Gasquet 4-6 6-4 6-3 as his impressive season continues.