Worthy wild card: Feliciano Lopez captures second Queen's Club title

Worthy wild card: Feliciano Lopez captures second Queen's Club title

The 2017 champion battled past Gilles Simon in three sets to win his seventh ATP singles trophy.

UPDATE: Lopez completed a sweep of titles at the ATP 500 event in London, partnering Andy Murray to a 7-6 (6), 5-7 [10-5] victory over Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury.

Feliciano Lopez claimed his second singles trophy at Queen's Clug with a hard-fought 6-2, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (2) victory over Gilles Simon on Sunday to increase his record as the oldest event champion, previously set two years ago.

Lopez came into this week with just three tour-level victories in 2019, a ranking of No. 113 and needed a wild card to gain entry into the main draw. He’s now projected to rise just outside the Top 50, thanks to winning his seventh ATP singles title.

“I thought the best moment of my career was in 2017 was I was holding this trophy. But it is not. It is right now,” Lopez declared to Sue Barker in an on-court interview.

In the three matches he played coming into the clash with Simon, Lopez had rallied from a set down each time, which included victories over former Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic and Canadian teenage sensation Felix Auger-Aliassime. He improved to 5-0 against Simon on grass and needed every ounce of strength to hold off the stiff challenge from the Frenchman, who helped produce a stunning display of tennis.

After missing a championship point in a 12-minute game that saw Simon force a deciding tiebreaker, Lopez capitalized on his opponent's first double fault of the clash—backing it up with a sublime stick volley to put the match on his racquet. He carved a strong serve out wide to reach 6-2 and served and volleyed his way into the winner's circle.

"He was getting better and better and it was really tough for me to find a way to win the points. He was so solid from the baseline," Lopez told Barker. "I was trying to go into the net and be aggressive but it was impossible. He was coming up with unbelievable passing shots from everywhere. The tiebreaker at the end was kind of a lottery. It went my way and I’m so happy right now."

Simon was bidding to win his first grass-court title. The 34-year-old also showed strong resolve in winning four three-setters en route to the championship, ousting No. 2 seed Kevin Anderson and No. 4 seed Daniil Medvedev along the way.

"It was a great final. I tried to stay in this match and come back, push Feli until the end," said Simon. "He played a better tie-break than me. To have the chance to win the final was an amazing feeling for me."