Dimitrov edges Lopez for Queen's title
In front of watching girlfriend Maria Sharapova, Grigor Dimitrov produced a stirring fightback from a set down to see off Feliciano Lopez in Sunday's Queen's final.
Dimitrov had admitted yesterday he was unsure if Sharapova would attend the match due to her own ongoing preparations for Wimbledon, but the French Open champion cheered him on to a 6-7(8) 7-6(1) 7-6(6) victory in a contest that lasted just over two and a half hours.
The Bulgarian becomes the fourth player in a row to win the Queen's final after losing the first set, claiming a fourth title and first on grass.
He is now also the first player this season to win titles on all three different surfaces, following his tournament victories on the hard courts at Acapulco and clay of Bucharest.
With both men hardly giving a sniff away on serve, the first two sets of the match almost inevitably went to a tie-breakers.
The 32-year-old Lopez edged the first after spurning four set points but then failed to take a match point at 6-5 in the second set, with Dimitrov forcing another tie-breaker and cruising through it.
An early break in the decider saw Lopez re-establish his hold on the match only for the Spaniard to hand Dimitrov a lifeline with a double fault on break point which levelled the set at 4-4.
Fittingly, a third tie-breaker was required to settle the match and Dimitrov took his second match point.
"It's been amazing to be here and win the tournament. I'm really happy to go through the match in such a way," said Dimitrov.
The pair had only previously met once, also at Queen's Club in 2010, when Lopez won in straight sets against a teenage Dimitrov, but it was a much tighter affair this time around.
"I was one point away so it's disappointing but this is tennis," said Lopez, who was bidding to become the oldest winner at Queen's in 36 years.
"He never gives up, as he showed today. It's tough to lose when you play such a great match. Overall it was a great week for me. It has been a great preparation for Wimbledon."
A tight first set went to a tie-break with Lopez wasting four set points before finally making the breakthrough as Dimitrov netted.
The second set looked to be going the same way, until Dimitrov suddenly found himself under pressure at 6-5 and 30-15 down as he served to stay in the match.
He brought it back to 30-30 but offered up a match point to Lopez with a shanked forehand that went way long. Dimitrov bailed himself out with an ace down the middle though and his relief was palpable with the Bulgarian emitting a passionate roar.
An excellent volley on the slide at the net brought up advantage and another ace duly brought up the second tie-breaker of the match.
Lopez continued to stutter as Dimitrov eased through the tie-breaker for the loss of just one point to level the match.
The momentum looked to have swung Dimitrov's way, only for Lopez to bring up a break point in the second game of the decider, Dimitrov unsuccessfully challenging after going wide with a backhand. A simple volley at the net secured the match's first break of service, an hour and 47 minutes in, as Lopez seized the initiative.
Dimitrov kept battling and a passing winner just found the baseline to bring up a break-back point at 4-3. A double fault from Lopez, so uncharacteristic of the match, levelled the match once again.
The set then played out on serve with a third tie-breaker needed. The two men could hardly be separated again until Lopez sliced a backhand into the net to give Dimitrov the mini break and match point.
Dimitrov shanked a simple forehand into the crowd to waste the opportunity but took his second chance as he saw out the match.