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FEVER-TREE TENNIS • MARIN CILIC OUTDUELS NOVAK DJOKOVIC FOR SECOND QUEEN’S CLUB CROWN

Marin Cilic of Croatia poses with the trophy after winning against Novak Djokovic of Serbia in the final match at the Fever Tree Championship at Queen’s Club in London, Britain, 24 June 2018. EPA-EFE/NEIL HALL

 

 

By Richard Pagliaro

 

LONDON—Illness and fatigue struck Marin Cilic before facing Novak Djokovic in today’s Fever-Tree Championships final.

 

Cilic was sick and tired of losing to the former No. 1.

 

The top-seeded Croatian provided a panacea today.

 

A determined Cilic out-dueled Djokovic, 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-3, to capture his second Queen’s Club championship—and first title since he won Istanbul on red clay last spring.

 

A year after Cilic squandered a match point bowing to Feliciano Lopez, 6-4, 6-7 (2), 6-7 (8), in the final, the bearded big man was in no mood for close shaves.

 

Before a packed and enthusiastic crowd, Cilic broke for 5-3 in the decisive set then served out his 18th career championship with command.

 

Contesting his fourth Queen’s Club final, Cilic served just 48 percent but played with poise and purpose in critical stages capturing his first Fever-Tree Championships title since 2012.

 

Facing one of the game’s premier returners, Cilic cranked 18 aces, permitted just eight points on his first serve and denied five of six break points.

 

The 2017 Wimbledon finalist has won 15 of his last 17 grass-court matches, solidifying his status as a leading contender for SW19, which begins on July 2nd.

 

Djokovic has long dominated his buddy and frequent practice partner winning 14 consecutive matches against Cilic, but the 2014 US Open champion has now won two in a row against the Serbian, including his victory at the 2016 Paris Masters Indoors.

 

Playing his 99th career singles final, Djokovic showed steely spine saving five break points in a frenetic seventh game that featured the former No. 1 channeling former coach Boris Becker with a diving volley. Djokovic withstood the uprising holding for 4-3.

 

The 2010 Queen’s Club finalist broke to snatch a one-set lead.

 

Undeterred, Cilic came back to edge out the tie break—his fourth tie break triumph of this week.

 

Tension ratcheted in the decider with many sun-soaked fans waving fans too keep cool and roaring their support for both men down the stretch.

 

Ultimately, Cilic’s crackling serve and some blistering first strikes proved the difference. Throughout the match, Cilic’s skill changing direction and driving the ball down the line helped him hold of the man who has dominated him.

 

Cilic, who wed wife Kristina on April 28th, has had major cause for celebration. In addition to his wedding, he knocked off then world No. 1 Rafael Nadal en route to his first Melbourne final and reached the Roland Garros quarterfinals.

 

Serving out a two hour, 56-minute victory, Cilic has now won 12 of his last 14 matches raising his record to 29-9.

 

Wild card Djokovic, who was bidding for his first tournament title since winning Eastbourne last June as a wild card, still enjoyed a productive week earning his 800th career victory and dropping serve just twice in five matches this week.

 

Editors Note: We admire Novak on a lot of levels. But we certainly DID NOT miss his endless bouncing…. Novak I might have to start calling you • MR. BOUNCE, Bounce, Bounce again… Come on man. Half as much is still too much…..(LJ)

Novak Djokovic of Serbia holds his runner up trophy following the final match with Marin Cilic of Croatia at the Fever Tree Championship at Queen’s Club in London, Britain, 24 June 2018. Cilic won in three sets. EPA-EFE/NEIL HALL

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