Matteo Berrettini has defended his cinch Championships title at Queen’s Club by beating Filip Krajinovic in straight sets.
The Italian, runner-up at Wimbledon last year to Novak Djokovic, beat another Serb, surprise package Krajinovic, 7-5 6-4 to win the title for the second year running.
In doing so, Berrettini joined some illustrious names; John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Lleyton Hewitt, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray, as the only players to successfully retain the Queen’s Club crown.
The world No 10 has been invincible this grass-court season with back-to-back titles, having beaten Andy Murray in Stuttgart last weekend.
Berrettini had too much firepower for unseeded Krajinovic, who has now lost all five of his Tour-level finals.
Berrettini, who claimed the title in Stuttgart this month, has now won 20 of his last 21 matches on grass, his only loss coming in last year’s Wimbledon final.
He was made to work hard by Krajinovic who broke back in the first set, only to get broken again at 5-5.
A Krajinovic double-fault proved costly at 2-3 in the second set as Berrettini secured the decisive break of serve and went on to secure his seventh career title.
Berrettini said: “There are too many emotions. The last thing I expected after 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’s unlikely run to the final will earn him enough ranking points to be among the seeds at Wimbledon, where he has suffered four first-round exits.
He said: “It was an amazing last 10 days, very emotional to be in my first final on grass.
“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. For sure I’m going to play here next year.”
Hurkacz stuns Medvedev to clinch Halle title
Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz also showed his Wimbledon credentials on Sunday, thrashing world No 1 Daniil Medvedev 6-1 6-4 to win the ATP 500 grasscourt tournament in Halle.
World No 12 Hurkacz defeated Medvedev and Roger Federer en route to the semi-finals at Wimbledon last year and showed he will once again be a force to reckon with when the Championships kick off on June 27.
Halle is the 25-year-old’s fifth ATP singles title, and he kept his record in finals so far unblemished with his victory in just over an hour when he converted his second match point with a backhand volley.
In contrast, it was a fifth straight defeat in a championship match for Medvedev, who has not won a title since denying Novak Djokovic the calendar Grand Slam at last year’s US Open final and winning a maiden major.
Medvedev, who will not be allowed to compete at Wimbledon due to its ban on Russian and Belarusian players, came into Sunday’s match having not dropped a set while saving 22 of the 23 break points he faced during his four matches. But the Russian struggled to get his first serves in as Hurkacz jumped into a 5-0 lead in no time with two breaks of his opponent’s delivery.
Medvedev finally held his serve trailing 5-1 before Hurkacz wrapped up the opening set in 27 minutes.
There was, however, no end to Medvedev’s frustrations in the second set as the Pole once again broke serve early, continuing to dominate the rallies both from the back of the court and when he advanced to the net.
Medvedev saved two breakpoints to hold serve in the seventh game to stay close to Hurkacz, but he could not get the break back against his opponent, who did not allow the Russian a single opportunity on his own delivery during the entire match.
Beatriz Haddad Maia secures back-to-back titles
An emotional Beatriz Haddad Maia made it back-to-back grass-court titles when opponent Zhang Shuai retired at the Rothesay Classic Birmingham.
After rain washed out play on Saturday, the semi-finals and final were both held on Sunday, with Haddad Maia and Zhang making it through to the final via tough battles against Simona Halep and Sorana Cirstea, respectively.
Zhang made the better start but Brazilian Haddad Maia, who also lifted the trophy in Nottingham last week, fought back and had taken a 5-4 lead when the Chinese player called for the trainer for treatment to her neck and decided she was unable to continue.
Speaking on court, Zhang, who also played a doubles match indoors on Saturday, said: “It was really tough to play after two-and-a-half-hour singles and also I played already seven matches this week.
“I’m really tired. Really tough to play indoor hard court and back to grass. My body is not working any more. Sorry.”
Haddad Maia will climb to a career-high ranking of 29 on Monday, meaning she will be seeded for Wimbledon, and she tearfully paid tribute to her team.
In 2020, the 26-year-old was given a 10-month doping ban despite a panel accepting her positive test was the result of a contaminated supplement and that she bore no significant fault.
Haddad Maia said: “We came from a title last week and it wasn’t enough. They were pushing me, trying to break the limits and be stronger every single day. I wouldn’t have this trophy without them.
“Nobody knows what we went through the last two years. It was something that I couldn’t explain. One year ago I was playing a final in a [bottom tier] 25K [tournament].
“If I didn’t have this power, this determination, it would be impossible. I’m really happy that I’m here with everybody here watching me play. Everything I passed through in my life just made me feel stronger.”
Jabeur wins in Berlin
There was also a retirement in the final of the Bett1 Open in Berlin, where Belinda Bencic sustained an ankle injury in the final game of the first set against Ons Jabeur.
Bencic carried on for three games of the second set but then had to concede, with Jabeur leading 6-3 2 1.
Jabeur gave Bencic words of comfort at the net, then hurriedly prepared a cooler with ice for the Swiss player to rest her injured ankle.
“I told her, forget about it, forget about today. The most important thing for me is that she’s okay,” Jabeur said.