Former world number one Andy Murray crowned a remarkable return to tennis with victory in the men’s doubles at the Queen’s Club tournament on Sunday with Spanish partner Feliciano Lopez.
A few hours earlier, Lopez became the oldest Queen’s singles champion when the 37-year-old defeated Frenchman Gilles Simon in a thrilling three-set clash, 6-2, 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/2).
Murray and Lopez notched a 7-6 (8/6), 5-7, 10-5 win over Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram.
The three-time Grand Slam champion’s triumph comes after what he described as “life-changing” hip surgery earlier this year.
Lopez is the first wildcard to win the key Wimbledon warm-up event since Pete Sampras in 1999 as well as the lowest-ranked player to claim the title at 113 since 108th-ranked Australian Scott Draper in 1998.
While Lopez has had an exhausting week – he still has to play the doubles final with Andy Murray – 34-year-old Simon also played inspired tennis despite all his matches going to three sets.
However, he just fell short of becoming the first Frenchman to win the title.
Lopez was the second 37-year-old to win an ATP tournament on Sunday after Roger Federer claimed his record-extending 10th Halle title.
“I don’t know how I did that,” said Lopez after receiving the trophy.
“The whole match was very exciting. I took the early set but then he (Simon) got better and better. It was tough for me to find a way to win points.
“He was coming up with unbelievable shots and I was a bit desperate. I thought the best moment of my career was when I held this trophy in 2017 but it’s not. It’s right now.”
Lopez broke Simon in the first game of the match with his second break point – quite some feat by the Spaniard given the Frenchman had come into the match having saved 30 during the week.
The Spanish veteran looked to be in complete control as he broke Simon again to go 4-1 up, netting the first break point but clinched the second one with a sublime volley.
Lopez took the first set with an ace but Simon was the faster of the two out of the gate in the second set, breaking the Spaniard for a 2-0 lead.
Lopez broke back immediately and it stayed with serve before a tie-break which featured a 33-stroke rally.
Simon rallied and retrieved a mini-break and then broke again to hold a set point on the Lopez serve which he converted with aplomb.
The third set went with serve and despite their respective ages, and the length of time they have spent on court this week, both showed remarkable agility.
Lopez hoped to close out the match at 6-5 and had a match point which he dumped into the net. However, he made no mistake in the tie-break.
Simon, who has 14 titles but none on grass, took defeat in good heart.
“I’m tired, of course,” said the 38th-ranked Frenchman. “It was long today. It was long every day. It was tough for Feli and he has another final to play in a few minutes.
“It’s tough right now after such an amazing effort to try and stay in this match and come back.
“Feli (Lopez) is still fit and he’s a bit older than me so I hope I’ll have the chance to come back again.”
With AFP inputs