Fighting fit Andy Murray defeats Marin Cilic to claim Aegon Championship and line up Wimbledon

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Scot comes from set down to win third Queen’s title as he puts back injury behind him

The Aegon Championships are on the lowest tier of competitions on the men’s tour, but winning the title here on Sunday must have felt like one of the more significant of the 27 tournament triumphs of Andy Murray’s career. All the worries of the last month over the back injury which had forced the 26-year-old Scot to miss the recent French Open were pushed aside as he came from behind to beat Marin Cilic 5-7, 7-5, 6-3 and win the title for the third time in the last five years.

Murray became the first Briton to claim three Queen’s titles since Arthur Lowe completed his hat-trick in 1925 at the near-Dad’s Army age of 39, but for the world No 2 this was a battle in preparation for a war. With Wimbledon beginning a week this Monday, he has found both his form and his fitness at just the right time.

Having eased his way back into competition with victories over journeymen in his first three matches following an enforced four-week absence, Murray secured the fourth grass-court title of his career by coming from behind on successive days to beat opponents who are among the best in the game on this surface.

The Scot followed up his victory on Saturday over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a Wimbledon semi-finalist for the last two years, by thwarting Cilic’s attempt to win the title here for the second year in succession.

Murray’s form over the last two days will have sent a resounding message to his rivals. Having reached last year’s final at Wimbledon and earned revenge over Roger Federer in the ensuing Olympic tournament, he had long been regarded by many as the favourite to win at the All England Club next month. Such expectations might have faded when he struggled with his lower back injury, but he has put himself firmly back in the mix.

Among active players only Federer and Lleyton Hewitt have won more matches and more titles on grass than Murray, who showed again what a master he is of this surface. Grass tests every aspect of your game and Murray’s all-round excellence eventually gave him the edge over Cilic (below). By the end the world No 12 was struggling to contain his exuberant opponent, who attacked the ball with relish and charged around the court like a spring chicken with a hungry fox in pursuit.

“I worked very hard in the time that I had off to try and get myself back in the best shape possible,” Murray said afterwards. “ My team helped me a lot. They were patient with me and it’s why I was able to come out and play so tough in the last couple of matches.”

Murray described Cilic as one of the best grass-court players in the world. “We’ve had a lot of close matches and I was lucky to come through at the end because he was playing such good tennis,” he said.

Cilic said it had been “a great match from both sides, a great level of tennis”. He said that Murray had proved he was “a great fighter”.

After a week punctuated by rain delays there was a period when it seemed that the tournament might be heading for its second Monday final in three years. The scheduled start had been brought forward by two hours to 12.15 because of the bad weather forecast, but there was already rain in the air.

Following all the stresses and strains of the last few days, which reached a peak with Saturday’s controversial decision to move the Cilic-Hewitt semi-final to a different court mid-match, tournament organisers will probably need to do a week of yoga breathing to recover.

Following one false start, when the rain returned just as the players completed their warm-up, the final eventually got under way more than three hours late. The conditions were cool, but at least there was little wind and by the end the sun was shining brightly.

Murray, having beaten the elements to win his semi-final against Tsonga at 8pm the previous evening, seemed keen to get the job done as quickly as possible. The Scot bristled with aggression, charging into the net on the opening point, and raced into a 3-0 lead.

Cilic, however, played his way back into contention, retrieved the break and levelled at 4-4. In the eighth game Murray took a nasty tumble after his right foot gave way underneath  him. The Scot lay on the floor for a  few worrying moments before dusting himself down and carrying on, though he seemed to move more  cautiously at first and said afterwards that the fall had left his groin feeling sore.

At 5-5 Cilic forced two more break points with a thumping backhand return. He needed only one of them as Murray missed a forehand to give the Croatian the opportunity to serve out for the set, which he duly took after saving a break point with a service winner.

The second set settled into some typical grass-court tennis, with the server holding sway. Murray, however, was starting to make inroads into Cilic’s service games and when the Croatian served at 5-6 he was immediately put under pressure by a superb winning lob. A missed backhand gave Murray set point and a forehand in the net handed him the set.

By now Murray was pressing hard and Cilic cracked again in the third game of the decider when he went for too much on a forehand on break point and put the ball wide. Murray, hitting some superb passing shots, had chances to break again in Cilic’s next two service games, but the Croatian held on until the Scot served out for victory.

Murray’s delight was evident and at the end he blew a kiss to his close friend, Ross Hutchins, who was  diagnosed with cancer at the end of last year. A charity doubles match followed, with the proceeds going to the Royal Marsden, the cancer centre which has been treating Hutchins. It was a reminder that, within the overall scheme of things, this was only a tennis match. For Murray, nevertheless, it was a match which could prove to be of great significance.

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album