Marin Cilic fights back to win Queens Club title against Novak Djokovic – Trending Stuff

Marin Cilic made an impressive comeback to beat Novak Djokovic 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-3, winning the Fever-Tree Championship and his second Queens Club title

Marin Cilic fights back to win Queens Club title against Novak Djokovic – Trending Stuff

There is something gnawing away at Novak Djokovic a week before Wimbledon and, if it was just losing against Marin Cilic in the final of the FeverTree Championship, he might return from a few days at home in Monte Carlo refreshed and ready to go again.

It was tough to tell, though, as his voice dipped in the immediate aftermath of Cilics 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-3 win in just under three hours on a warm Sunday afternoon at the Queens Club.

The Serb left Roland Garros thoroughly drained after losing in the quarterfinals, unsure if he would even play at Wimbledon, and all week here he has fended off questions about his downbeat mood. I wouldnt say Im a contender for a trophy or anything like that, Djokovic said. I have to keep my expectation very low, considering my results in the last 12 months. It was not all gloom, of course, and he bridled when asked if winning a grand slam after a two-year drought would count among his best achievements: Its what Im playing for.

Cilic, whose determination has not always matched his considerable talent, heads for Wimbledon with spirits high and excellent prospects of reaching the final there again after the huge disappointment of surrendering to foot blisters and the brilliance of Roger Federer in the 2017 final.

Beating Djokovic, the former world No 1, for only the second time in 16 matches put the broadest of smiles on the face of Cilic, who saved a match point in the second set and held his nerve admirably in the third.

Djokovic said courtside: That was a great comeback. He deserved to win. Its a tough loss but I have to see it from a positive side. I havent been in any finals for a year, so this felt great. It came at the right time ahead of Wimbledon, the most prestigious tournament in the world, and Ive had the fortune to win it three times.

The winners upbeat demeanour seemed more convincing. Novak had such a great week, and its really good to see him coming back so well, healthwise, playing at the top level, Cilic said.

Last year I had a match point and couldnt convert it, this year it was Novak. I definitely am relieved. Ive waited six years to win again.

That was by default in 2012, when David Nalbandian had a brain fade, accidentally injuring a line judge when he kicked the advertising box around his legs. There was no such angst here, but plenty of tension.

There was a time when Djokovic would rip open his shirt, eyes blazing, and beat his chest as if he were about to explode. Then, as he sought peace of mind away from the court, his serving elbow began to ache to the point of distraction, he withdrew from the Tour in despair. At 31, he does not appear to have shaken off all the demons.

Djokovic
Djokovic plays a backhand. Photograph: Tom Jenkins for the Guardian

Djokovic should not be discounted at Wimbledon, though, especially in light of Federers first defeat on grass in 21 matches at Halle on Sunday missing out on his 99th career title by losing 7-6 (6), 3-6, 6-2 against Croatias Borna Coric in the Gerry Weber Open final and the struggles of his longtime peers Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and, on grass at least, Rafael Nadal. But serving a double-fault at 4-3 in the tie-break seemed to take the wind out of him, when he once would have gritted his teeth and found a way to prevail.

Cilic arrived here with a proud record on the Queens Club grass. This was his fourth final in 12 visits. As Nick Kyrgios said before losing against him in the semi-finals, Cilic will be among the favourites at Wimbledon. If he serves well and hes physically feeling good, for sure, said the Australian, who could not cope with Cilics precision.

Djokovic had his moments on Sunday, forcing Cilic through 10 minutes of angst at the start of the second set, but after an hour and a half Cilic was making him earn every point. He had to scramble to save match point at 4-5 and, from that point on, grew in self-belief.

Cilic won six points in a row to force a third set. The fretfulness heightened, as Djokovic fought against fatigue and his opponents increasingly potent forehand. He needed an ace to save break point in the eighth game, could do little about the angled forehand around the net that gave Cilic another chance and then dumped a weary forehand.

Cilic served for the title and Djokovic, when once he might have roared back, put up barely token resistance, his final forehand sailing harmlessly long.

Kvitova resists Rybarikova fury to retain title

Petra
Petra Kvitova roars in celebration after winning in Birmingham. Photograph: Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images for LTA

Petra Kvitova hit back from a set down to beat Magdalena Rybarikova and retain her Nature Valley Classic title in Birmingham.

The double Wimbledon champion had reached the final without dropping a set but was made to work by the Slovakian, who won the Birmingham title in 2009. But after dropping a tight opening set, Kvitova turned on the style to record a 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory in just over two hours.

Like the world No 8 Kvitova, Rybarikova has fine grass-court pedigree, having reached last years Wimbledon semi-finals, and it showed in the opener as she seized the advantage.

Rybarikova twice broke the Kvitova serve in the opening set and looked a strong candidate to claim the fifth WTA tour title of her career.

But Kvitova proved a different proposition for the remainder of the match, breaking twice in the second set while having to save only a single break point against her serve.

And despite being broken in the decider, Kvitova responded by breaking Rybarikova three more times to wrap up what ultimately proved to be a convincing win. Press Association

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