Italy’s Matteo Berrettini served notice of his intention to mount another strong challenge at Wimbledon after joining an elite group of players by retaining his ATP Queen’s Club title on Sunday.
Berrettini defeated Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic 7-5, 6-4 in the final of the Wimbledon warm-up event.
He will now be aiming to go one better at Wimbledon, the only one of tennis’s four majors still played on grass, after losing to Novak Djokovic in last year’s final
Berrettini’s victory meant he 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 win back-to-back Queen’s titles.
The World No 10 has been in superb grass-court form this season following a return from hand surgery.
Berrettini, 26, has now won two tournaments in a row, after beating Murray in Stuttgart last weekend, and Sunday’s success was a further boost to his confidence just eight days before the start of Wimbledon.
Krajinovic, who prior to this week had never won a match on grass, was the first player in Sunday’s final to lose serve.
But the World No 48 commendably broke straight back to level at 3-3.
Berrettini, however, edged ahead at 6-5 and then held serve to take the first set.
Krajinovic’s chance had gone and Berettini broke midway through the second set before finishing off the match with an ace.
“There are too many emotions,” Berrettini said soon after his latest victory. “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.
“Every time I walk in the hallways here and see all the names of the champions from the past, and now knowing it’s me, twice, on the same wall gives me goosebumps.”
Krajinovic, meanwhile, was buoyed by a performance that gave him hope of improving on a woeful record at Wimbledon, where he has suffered four first-round defeats.
“It was an amazing last 10 days, very emotional to be in my first final on grass,” he said.
“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.”
Jabeur claims Berlin crown
Top seed Ons Jabeur won the final of the WTA tournament in Berlin on Sunday after Olympic champion Belinda Bencic was forced to retire after twisting her left ankle.
Bencic slipped at the end of the first set and despite receiving treatment, she eventually retired with Jabeur leading 6-3, 2-1.
Jabeur had raced into a 3-0 lead after just nine minutes before going on to win the third WTA title of her career after wins on grass last year in Birmingham and on clay in Madrid last month.
“From what I know of Belinda, she would have taken me to three sets today,” said Jabeur, who wished her opponent a speedy recovery with Wimbledon due to start in a week’s time.
“The most important thing for me is that she is okay.”
Hurkacz wins as Medvedev fumes at coach
World No 1 Daniil Medvedev screamed at his coach during an on-court outburst before going on to lose his second straight ATP grass-court final when he was brushed aside by Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz in Halle.
Medvedev had few answers as he crashed to a 6-1,6-4 defeat inside 64 minutes.
This was a second consecutive heavy defeat in a final for the Russian who also lost in straight sets to Tim van Rijthoven last Sunday at ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
At the start of the second set on Sunday, Medvedev shouted angrily at his French coach Gilles Cervara, who promptly left his seat in the stands and stormed out of the stadium.
After the match, Medvedev apologised to the crowd for “not making this match longer and more interesting” and admitted he was “not easy to be with on the court” this week.
Hurkacz earned the fifth title of his career, but his first on grass having also reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon last year.
“Daniil is the best player in the world so it’s very tricky to play him,” said Hurkacz.
“All the right shots went my way at the beginning, so I definitely gained a lot of momentum from that.”
On his way to the final in Halle, the 25-year-old saw off Australian firebrand Nick Kyrgios in three sets before outclassing Medvedev.
A protestor briefly held up play on Sunday by sprinting onto the court before being escorted out of the stadium by security guards.