Matteo Berrettini fired a Wimbledon warning as he defended his title as the king of Queen’s.
The Italian, runner-up at SW19 last year to Novak Djokovic, beat another Serbian, surprise package Filip Krajinovic, 7-5 6-4 to win the cinch Championship for the second year running.
In doing so Berrettini joined John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Lleyton Hewitt, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray as the only players in the open era to successfully retain the Queen’s Club crown.
He has won back-to-back titles, having beaten Murray in Stuttgart last weekend, and now has his sights set firmly on going one better at Wimbledon which begins a week on Monday.
Things looked ominous for underdog Krajinovic, ranked 48 in the world, when he had to fend off break points in his first two service games and then dropped serve in his third.
But despite his aversion to grass – Krajinovic had never won a match on the surface prior to this week – he was not in the final just to make up the numbers and hit straight back for 3-3.
However, Berrettini got his nose in front again at 6-5 and this time decisively served out the set to take firm control.
Krajinovic was attempting to achieve something compatriot Djokovic has never done – win the Queen’s title – but the wheels came off midway through the second set as Berrettini broke to love.
After finishing the job with a booming ace, Berrettini said: “There are too many emotions.
“The last thing I expected after a surgery was two titles in a row and to defend my title here. I just cannot believe it.
Looking ahead to his Wimbledon return, Berrettini added: “I really think there is room for improvement. I think my level is getting higher and higher the more I play.
“Today was one of the best matches I played in the last few weeks. And that’s why I’m even more confident for Wimbledon. Obviously I know that I cannot be perfect but I feel like I’m getting better and better.”
Krajinovic’s unlikely run to the final will earn him enough ranking points to be among the seeds at Wimbledon, where he has suffered four first-round exits.
He said: “It was an amazing last 10 days, very emotional to be in my first final on grass.
“Just before this tournament I never won a match on grass and I hated playing on grass. But I feel now I want to play more and more. For sure I’m going to play here next year.”
There was British disappointment in the doubles as Lloyd Glasspool and Finnish partner Harri Heliovaara lost in three sets to Serbian duo Nikola Mektic
and Mate Pavic.
It was still a positive week for the fledgling partnership and Glasspool, 28, said: “It’s amazing to be able to play in front of these crowds with them all behind you.
“We’ve gelled so well and know each other’s games, we are really clicking and getting along on and off the court.”
Alfie Hewett won the wheelchair doubles alongside Stephane Houdet, beating fellow Brit Andrew Penney and Joachim Gerard.
At the Halle Open, Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz shocked world number one Daniil Medvedev to claim a first grass-court title.
The fifth seed broke Russian Medvedev three times on his way to a 6-1 6-4 victory in just 63 minutes.