World number 113 Feliciano Lopez captured his seventh career title at the Queen’s Club on Sunday afternoon, edging past Gilles Simon in three tight sets to regain the title he won for the first time two years ago.
Lopez, who was handed a wildcard into the tournament following a poor streak of form that has seen him drop out of the top 100 for the first time since 2002, had won all four previous meetings on grass against Simon, and was the favorite coming in, a tag which was justified as he dropped just two games in the opening set.
However, Simon, who was hoping to be the first Frenchman to ever win the title, fought back impressively, displaying the type of tennis that has seen him down Kevin Anderson and Daniil Medvedev on his way to the final. Simon took the second set and had some chances in the third, though it was Lopez who prevailed, claiming a 6-2, 6-7(4), 7-6(2) victory in two hours and 49 minutes.
Lopez edges past Simon in tight final
It has been a hectic week for both men, with both spending over ten hours on court. Simon has had four lengthy three-set matches to reach this stage, including one of the longest matches in the tournament’s history in the quarterfinals against Nicolas Mahut, whilst Lopez has had three three-set matches and his double commitments, completing two full matches and the end of another yesterday.
The first set was not as one-sided as the score suggested, though Lopez looked the most fresh was in control. The Spaniard broke in the opening game and then broke again for a 4-1, double break lead, saving three break points to hold for 5-1. Simon was working hard and had grown into the set, though could do little to prevent the 2017 champion taking the opener in 40 minutes.
Simon responded quickly in set two as he broke for a 2-0 lead, though immediately lost his advantage as Lopez broke back for 2-1. The second set provided no more opportunities for either man, with both looking strong on serve, though it seemed Lopez would claim the title in straight sets when leading 4-2 in the ensuing breaker. However, some costly errors handed Simon the initiative, and the final five points fell his way as a decider was set.
The start of the decider was extremely tight, with break points created in the first four games, though neither of the two could break, and a run of fairly comfortable service games ensued, with Lopez holding for 6-5. The Spaniard applied some immense pressure as Simon served to stay in the match, saving several game points and forcing a match point, though missed a return, and the Frenchman eventually forced a tiebreak. A double fault from Simon handed Lopez the advantage at 4-2, and this time he did not waste it, taking the final three points to claim the title.
After a week in which both have played so much tennis, it would have not been surprising if either had faltered physically, though both still seemed full of energy, ultimately forcing what was a fantastic final. It looked as if it could be a repeat of the 2014 final after Lopez missed that match point on Simon's serve, having lost to Grigor Dimitrov after wasting a similar chance on that day, though the Spaniard dominated the tiebreak, and will be back in the top 100 tomorrow.