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 number 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 number 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.”