Lopez Wins Queen's Club Battle Of The Ages Against Felix
In a battle of experience against youth, he defeated eighth-seeded #NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-4. The match between 37-year-old Lopez and 18-year-old Auger-Aliassime marked the largest age difference in an ATP Tour semi-final or final since Hong Kong in 1977, when Ken Rosewall (43) defeated Pat Dupre (23) in the semi-finals.
Lopez is also into the doubles final with Andy Murray. The pair won two matches on Saturday, completing a darkness-delayed quarter-final over Daniel Evans and Ken Skupski before defeating third seeds Henri Kontinen and John Peers. Lopez spent well over four hours on court to pick up the three victories.
“If someone told me this a week ago, I would say you're crazy because it feels so great. To be here again in the finals in both singles and doubles, it's tough to believe,” said Lopez. “I thought that somehow things are going to go well on the grass and this week has been fantastic from the very beginning."
Lopez is through to his first ATP Tour final since prevailing here two years ago (d. Cilic). He also broke ground as the oldest Queen’s Club finalist in the Open Era.
Awaiting him in the final is another veteran in 34-year-old Gilles Simon, who defeated fourth seed Daniil Medvedev in a marathon three-set match earlier in the day. Lopez leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 5-2 and has won all four of their grass-court meetings, including the 2013 Eastbourne final.
Auger-Aliassime drops to 6-2 in his first professional grass-court season. Had he defeated Lopez, the Canadian would have cracked the Top 20 of the ATP Rankings on Monday. He currently sits at a career-high of No. 21.
Both players traded service holds throughout the opening set. Auger-Aliassime raised his level in the tie-break, cracking a backhand passing shot winner to take a 4/2 lead. Serving at 3/6, Lopez tumbled at the net while attempting a forehand volley and allowed the Canadian to place a forehand in the open court. The Canadian dropped just five points on serve in the opening set.
After 44 consecutive holds, a pair of forehand errors at 0-1 in the second set led to Auger-Aliassime dropping serve for the first time this week. The 18-year-old became frustrated as he struggled with his footing on the grass and timing on his forehand. Auger-Aliassime hit 21 winners to 10 unforced errors in the first set, but hit seven winners and 11 errors in the second set.
Lopez remained steady from the baseline, but also flattened out his forehand and made more frequent trips to the net to force a deciding set. He won seven of nine net points in the second set and prevailed in 79 per cent of his first-serve points.
Auger-Aliassime sent a backhand wide to give Lopez a crucial break to lead 3-2 in the deciding set. But serving at 3-5, the Canadian bravely fought back from 0/40 and saved four match points with a barrage of aces and winners. Lopez remained calm and served out the match in the next game, flicking a forehand drop shot winner and laughing in disbelief as he advanced after two hours after 17 minutes.