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Cilic eyeing Wimbledon delight after powering to Queen's win

By Jonathan Veal

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 to 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. As a player I've got great experience and in the last couple of years I have 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."

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 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 in the final and almost won it. It's a great result."

Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares were unable to make it back-to-back Queen's titles as they were beaten in the doubles final. Murray and Soares, who were winners in 2017, lost 6-4 6-3 in the Fever-Tree Championships.

They had taken the long route to the final, having to win a champions tie-break in each of their previous three rounds, but their luck ran out against the second seeds. John Peers and Henri Kontinen, winners of the 2017 Australian Open, won it with a break in each set.

Meanwhile, Borna Coric ended Roger Federer's 20-match winning streak on grass, beating him 7-6(6) 3-6 6-2 in the Halle Open final while also bringing to a halt the Swiss maestro's reign as World No.1.

Federer was denied a 10th title in the German grasscourt tournament as Croatian Coric handed the 36-year-old his first setback on an otherwise serene road towards defending his Wimbledon title.

The defeat means that Rafa Nadal will return to the top of the world rankings today.

It was Federer's first defeat on grass since a second-round loss to German Tommy Haas at Stuttgart in June last year.

He also remains two matches away from matching Jimmy Connors' all-time record of 174 victories on the surface as he missed out on a 99th career title.

And Dan Evans has been drawn against Ilya Ivashka in the first round of Wimbledon qualifying.

Belfast Telegraph

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