Marin Cilic is confident of mounting a Wimbledon challenge after finishing top of the pile in a strong field at Queen’s.
The Croatian won the Fever-Tree Championships with a 5-7, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 win over Novak Djokovic yesterday.
It is the second time he has won at Queen’s and it avenged his 2017 final defeat by Feliciano Lopez.
Some of the best grass-court players have been in action this week and Cilic, who was also a beaten finalist at Wimbledon last year, reckons winning this title is second only to his US Open victory in 2014.
“I’m feeling great,” he said. “Obviously I have an amazing week behind me. I went through the draw, a really difficult draw, I have to say.
“From the first round to the last match it was all great quality players and one of the toughest tournaments I have won apart from the US Open victory. So I’m really pleased with that and feeling really confident about Wimbledon, as well.
“I think I’m improving every single week. I’ve got great experience obviously and in the last couple years I learned a lot about myself, my training, recovery, and I felt I brought that up on another level for me, just trying to pay attention to every single detail.”
Recalling his defeat in the 2017 final, Cilic said: “Last year I had a match point and I didn’t convert it and this year Novak had it.
“I was just trying to stay in it. It was tough. I had no break of serve until the last game, I am relieved to win it. I had a great time this week.”
For Djokovic, his 99th career final ended in disappointment and the wait since his last title is the longest of his career.
The Serbian has not lifted any silverware since winning at Eastbourne in June 2017, but he will look back on a positive week at a tournament he entered for the first time in eight years.
The former world No 1 was not even sure he was going to play the grass-court season after a disappointing quarter-final loss at the French Open, but he looked somewhere near back to his best.
Although he will not accept it, he should be a frontrunner for a third Wimbledon title next month. “I wouldn’t say I’m a contender for a trophy or anything like that,” he said. “I have to keep my expectations very low, considering my results in the last 12 months.
“But I’m really happy that I’m able to play this way coming up to Wimbledon.
“I mean, this is as big of a tournament as it gets prior to Wimbledon, and I played finals and almost won it. It’s a great result.”