Aegon Championships 2014: Maria Sharapova's boyfriend Grigor Dimitrov in dreamland after clinching Queen’s Club title
The Bulgarian defeated Feliciano Lopez 6-7, 7-6, 7-6
Grigor Dimitrov’s talent has never been in doubt but the 23-year-old Bulgarian showed here on Sunday that he has the mental strength to go with his outstanding ability. Dimitrov claimed his third title of the year by winning the Aegon Championships but had to save a match point before overcoming Feliciano Lopez 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 in a high-quality final.
It was a popular victory by the world No 13, who at the end presented his racket to Chris Kermode, the executive chairman and president of the Association of Tennis Professionals, which runs the men’s game. In his previous job as tournament director at Queen’s Kermode twice stuck his neck out by giving wild cards to Dimitrov, who was ranked outside the world’s top 350 at the time.
Dimitrov’s delight was evident in his leap of celebration. “This has always been a tournament that I’ve wanted to win,” he said. “I remember playing here as a teenager. Ever since then I have dreamt about that moment.”
Maria Sharapova, Dimitrov’s girlfriend, watched from the stands. “She’s just been unbelievable, with me throughout all the year so far and just supporting me,” he said. “The feeling is pretty mutual. I hope that’s not going to be the last tournament that she’s at. Having Maria on my side definitely adds up. There is a lot to learn from a tremendous champion like her.”
Many previous champions at Queen’s Club – including Andy Murray, last year’s winner – have gone on to Wimbledon glory. Dimitrov will head for the All England Club next week as the only player on the men’s tour who has claimed titles on three different surfaces this year, having won on hard courts in Acapulco and on clay in Bucharest.
“I’ll be going to Wimbledon with a lot of positive vibes,” he said. “I’ll be trying to play my game the same way I did here, match by match.”
Maria Sharapova looks on at Queen's The final was an echo of grass-court tennis from yesteryear, with serves dominating and break points few and far between. There were just two breaks of serve in the whole two and a half hours.
Lopez, who won his last title on grass at Eastbourne 12 months ago, loves this surface. The 32-year-old Spanish left-hander, who beat Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek en route to the final, served beautifully and ventured up to the net at every opportunity.
Dimitrov saved two set points in the first tie-break but eventually cracked as Lopez won it 10-8. It was when he served at 5-6 in the second set that Dimitrov showed great mental resilience. At 15-30 down the Bulgarian was winning the rally when a bad line call led to the point being replayed. Dimitrov went on to win the point with a splendid backhand cross-court pass and saved a match point later in the game when Lopez netted a return of serve.
When Dimitrov won the second set tie-break 7-1 it seemed likely he would run away with the third set, but Lopez broke in the opening game and held his lead until double-faulting on break point in the eighth game. The match went to a third tie-break. Dimitrov messed up a forehand on his first match point at 6-5 as the ball clipped the frame of his racket, but on his second, two points later, Lopez netted a forehand.
Jamie Murray and John Peers hope to be seeded in the Wimbledon doubles after their good showing here this week. They beat the Bryan brothers en route to yesterday’s final, in which they lost 4-6, 7-6, 10-4 to Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares. The day ended with the Murray brothers, Ross Hutchins, Victoria Azarenka, Heather Watson and Martina Hingis playing charity matches as part of the “Rally for Bally”, in memory of the Briton Elena Baltacha, who died of liver cancer last month at the age of 30.
How Liverpool can catch Manchester United and secure Champions League football next season
Arsenal transfer news: Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini set for showdown summer talks over future
Arsenal transfer news: Arsene Wenger reveals: 'We are not close to signing anybody. We need to lose some players'
Danny Jones: Keighley Cougars half-back dies after cardiac arrest during league game
Chelsea season player ratings: Grading the entire squad of the new Premier League champions
- 2 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 3 Russell Brand backs Ed Miliband: 'You gotta vote Labour'
- 4 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils