Matteo Berrettini has issued a warning at Wimbledon as he defends his title as King of Queen’s.
The Italian, second at SW19 last year ahead of Novak Djokovic, beat fellow Serbian surprise package Filip Krajinovic 7-5 6-4 to win the Cinch Championship for the second consecutive year.
In doing so, Berrettini joined John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Lleyton Hewitt, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray as the only Open Era players to successfully retain the Queen’s Club crown.
The world number 10 has been invincible this season on grass, unbeaten since returning from recent hand surgery.
He has won back-to-back titles, having beaten Murray in Stuttgart last weekend, and now has his sights set on doing better at Wimbledon, which starts a week on Monday.
Things looked ominous for underdog Krajinovic, ranked 48th in the world, when he had to fend off break points in his first two service games and then lost serve in his third.
But despite his aversion to grass – Krajinovic had never won a game on the surface before this week – he wasn’t in the final just to catch up on the numbers and strike straight for 3-3.
However, Berrettini again took the lead at 6-5 and this time served decisively the set to take firm control.
Krajinovic was trying to achieve something compatriot Djokovic had never done – win the Queen’s title – but the wheels came off midway through the second set when Berrettini broke up with love.
After finishing the job with a booming ace, Berrettini said: “There are too many emotions.
“The last thing I expected after surgery was to win two titles in a row and defend my title here. I just can’t believe it.
“Every time I walk down the halls here and see all the names of champions from the past, and now knowing it’s me, twice, on the same wall gives me goosebumps.”
Looking ahead to his return to Wimbledon, Berrettini added: “I really think there is room for improvement. I think my level is getting higher and higher the longer I play.
“Today was one of the best matches I’ve played in recent weeks. And that’s why I’m even more confident for Wimbledon. Obviously I know I can’t be perfect, but I have I feel like I’m getting better and better.
Krajinovic’s unlikely run to the final will earn him enough ranking points to be among the top seeds at Wimbledon, where he suffered four first-round exits.
He said: “It’s been an incredible, very emotional last 10 days of being in my first final on grass.
“Just before this tournament, I had never won a game on grass and I hated playing on grass. But now I feel like I want to play more and more. For sure I will play here next year.
The Brits were disappointed in doubles as Lloyd Glasspool and his Finnish partner Harri Heliovaara lost in straight sets to Serbian duo Nikola Mektic.
and Mate Pavic.
It was another positive week for the fledgling partnership and Glasspool, 28, said: “It’s amazing to be able to play in front of these crowds with them all behind you.
“We gelled so well and know each other’s games, we really click and get along well on and off the pitch.”
Alfie Hewett won the wheelchair double alongside Stéphane Houdet, beating fellow Brit Andrew Penney and Joachim Gerard.
At the Halle Open, Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz surprised world number one Daniil Medvedev by winning a first title on grass.
The fifth seed beat Russia’s Medvedev three times en route to a 6-1 6-4 win in just 63 minutes.