Queen's 2018: Novak Djokovic to face Marin Cilic in final
|2018 Fever-Tree Championships on the BBC|
|Venue: Queen’s Club, London Dates: 18-24 June|
|Coverage: Watch live on BBC Two, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, Connected TVs, the BBC Sport website and app.|
Former world number one Novak Djokovic reached his first final for a year by beating Jeremy Chardy at the Fever-Tree Championships at Queen’s Club.
The Serb beat France’s Chardy 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 in the Wimbledon warm-up event.
He will face top seed Marin Cilic in Sunday’s final after the Croat kept his cool to beat Australia’s Nick Kyrgios 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-4).
Britain’s Jamie Murray and Brazilian Bruno Soares beat Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic to reach the doubles final.
The defending champions clinched a 6-3 6-7 10-7 win over Austrian Marach and Pavic of Croatia to set up a final with Finland’s Henri Kontinen and Australian John Peers.
The final between Djokovic and Cilic is scheduled for 14:30 BST, which is a later start time than normal because of England’s football World Cup group match against Panama.
Djokovic’s last appearance in a Tour final was at Eastbourne a year ago, when the 12-time Grand Slam champion won the title.
He accepted a wildcard to this year’s Queen’s in an attempt to regain his best form before Wimbledon, which starts on 2 July, having returned from an elbow injury last year.
The 31-year-old is playing in the west London grass-court tournament for the first time in 10 years, having lost to Rafael Nadal in the 2008 final.
Djokovic will fancy his chances of going one better against Cilic, with an impressive career record of 14 victories and just a solitary defeat against his fellow finalist.
“It was very pleasing to go through to the final,” Djokovic said. “It’s been a while since I’ve played for a title so it’s a special moment considering what I have been through.
“It’s a great occasion. I would lie if I say I wasn’t ambitious coming into the tournament so I am hoping I can go all the way.”
Rhythm returning for Djokovic
Djokovic showed flashes of his best tennis in his straight-set win against French journeyman Chardy.
However, facing an opponent ranked 61st in the world, to whom he had never lost in 10 previous meetings, there were also occasional signs of frustration.
Despite closing out the first set in a tie-break, the 12-time Grand Slam winner vented his annoyance towards his support staff watching from the box.
There was also some tetchiness with the umpire when he lost a point after colliding with the net, having incorrectly believed the ball bounced twice before he made contact.
Djokovic lifted his game to claim a decisive break in the second set against the spirited Chardy, who played some eye-catching winners at the net but lacked the killer instinct to seriously trouble the Serb.
A match against the big-serving Cilic will provide a better barometer of Djokovic’s credentials to make an impression on the grass courts of the All England Club.
Asked how he will cope with Cilic’s serve in the final, Djokovic joked: “I will play with two racquets – one in the right hand and one in the left hand!”
Cilic ‘more lucky and composed’
Cilic, who won the title here in 2012 and was runner-up to Feliciano Lopez last year, will compete in his fourth Queen’s final.
While Australian Kyrgios entertained the crowd with his usual display of showman shots and colourful language, world number six Cilic kept his cool in a match featuring few long rallies between the two big servers.
After somewhat predictably going to two tie-breaks, the match was settled when Kyrgios sent a backhand return wide.
Cilic told BBC Sport: “It’s so special to play here. I played great tennis throughout the week and have another shot at the title.
“Nick is serving so good, so it was tough from both ends,” added Cilic, who served 11 aces to Kyrgios’ 16.
“It was tough to get any break points. I was maybe a bit more lucky in those situations and composed.”
Cilic is through to his second final of 2018 after losing to world number one Roger Federer at the Australian Open in January.