Cameron Norrie missed out on a first ATP Tour title at Queen’s Club having been beaten 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 by the top seed Matteo Berrettini in the final of the cinch Championships.
The British No 2 is the only player to have taken a set off Berrettini during the Italian’s run to the title, but an untimely break of serve at 4-3 in the final set, proved to be his undoing.
Berrettini becomes the first player to win the Queen’s Club title on debut since Boris Becker did so in 1985 and he is the first Italian to win the tournament.
“He was just too good for me today and better than me on the big points,” Norrie said on court after losing the final. “All credit to Matteo and his team, it’s been a great week for them.
“I’ve really enjoyed my tennis here [too]. If you would have called me before the tournament, then I would have signed up for the final.
“It’s great to have some tennis back here on the grass and thank you to everyone to coming out and supporting.”
Norrie had little time to reflect on his loss, as he had to return to court shortly after and complete the semi-final of the men’s doubles. Alas, for the British No 2 and his partner Alex De Minaur, they lost 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 to Reilly Opelka and John Peers.
Berrettini went into the singles final as the destroyer of British hopes in west London, having already accounted for Andy Murray and Dan Evans with his booming serves that regularly reached 140mph.
Key for Norrie was to do the business with his own serve and then hope to eke out a chance or two on Berrettini’s, or strike in the tie-break.
So it was a huge setback when two double faults gifted Berrettini a break in the opening set, which he went on to take with yet another unreturnable serve.
Norrie saved two break points before moving 5-4 ahead in the second set and had a glimpse of an opening at 6-5 15-30 on the Berrettini serve, but it was quickly snuffed out.
However, in the tie-break, the plan worked to perfection, as Norrie nicked the mini break, racked up three set points, and took the third on serve when Berrettini floated a backhand long.
Two more break points were fended off by Norrie at 2-3 in the decider, but in his next service game he blew a 40-0 lead, netting limply to hand Berrettini the chance to serve for the championship.
Berrettini had won his previous 45 service games this week at Queen’s Club, and he made it 46 to love, to land his fifth ATP title and the biggest of his career.
Despite the final disappointment for Norrie, a rise in the rankings from 41 to 34, should be enough to see him among the seeds at the forthcoming Wimbledon Championships
“It’s obviously special to be seeded at Wimbledon,” Norrie added on court. “I’m disappointed not to get the title here but we’ll keep pushing for more and hopefully there’ll be many more chances to come.”
“It’s been an unbelievable week and to think of Boris Becker’s name and my name [on the same trophy] is crazy,” Berrettini said.
“I have been watching the tournament since I was a kid, and this is a dream come true to win it.
“Cam is a great player and this year he has shown how he can play on all the surfaces. He’s had a great week and I am sure he will win a title soon.”