London: Marin Cilic was crowned Queen’s Club champion for the second time as the Croatian stunned Novak Djokovic with a dramatic fightback in his 5-7, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 victory yesterday.
Cilic was on the verge of a third loss in the Queen’s final when Djokovic held a match point in the second set. But the world number six survived that threat and then stormed back from 4-1 down to take the second set tie-break.
Inspired by that escape act, Cilic powered through the deciding set to leave Djokovic shell-shocked as he won the Wimbledon warm-up event for the first time since 2012.
“It was a special win for me because last year I had a match point and didn’t convert it,” Cilic said. “It was a tough match but I have waited six years to get my hands on this trophy.”
Djokovic tried to stay upbeat, saying: “I have to congratulate Marin on a fantastic week. He deserved to win and came up with some big shots.
“It’s a tough loss for me. But I have to see the positive because I haven’t played a final in almost a year.”
It was a cathartic moment for Cilic who had finished as the runner-up at Queen’s and Wimbledon last year.
Both defeats were painful for Cilic, who lost a final set tie-break against Feliciano Lopez at Queen’s and broke down in tears during his injury-plagued Wimbledon loss to Roger Federer.
Former US Open champion Cilic also lost the 2013 Queen’s final and experienced fresh heartache against Federer in this year’s Australian Open final.