World no. 6 and 2012 champion Marin Cilic added the second Queen's trophy to his collection in 2018, prevailing against 2008 finalist Novak Djokovic 5-7, 7-6, 6-3 in two hours and 57 minutes for his 18th ATP title and the first since Istanbul 2017.
Marin saved a match point in the tenth game of the second set and came from a 4-1 down in the tie break to prolong the encounter and bring it home with a single break in the deciding set. It was their 16th meeting and the second straight win for Marin after Paris 2016, losing the first 14 encounters against the great rival who was competing in his first ATP final in a year.
Struggling in the first four months of the season due to a long break he had to take in the second part of 2017, Djokovic had found his form in Rome, Paris and here in London, heading to Wimbledon as one of the favorites.
Marin served at only 48% but drew the most from it, firing 18 aces and fending off five out of six break points to keep the pressure on Novak.
Djokovic landed 74% of the first serve in and, like the entire week, his initial shot worked like a charm, repelling seven out of eight break chances but losing the match due to that one late break he suffered.
After those five break points he saved in the seventh game of the opening set, Novak rattled off 11 good holds, forcing Cilic to repeat the same if he wanted to stay in contention. Thanks to his serve and forehand, Marin had 61 winners with just 39 unforced errors while Novak stood on a 42-26 ratio, which was almost good enough to secure the title for him in this excellent final.
The Croat was the better player in the opening eight games, finding the zone behind the initial shot and creating a break opportunity in game three that Novak saved when Marin's backhand hit the net. The Serb was under even more significant pressure at 3-3 when he had to play against five break chances, erasing them all to remain in touch with Cilic after three service winners and two mistakes from his rival.
Four good holds later, it was Marin who served to stay in the set at 5-6 and experienced first problems behind the initial shot, allowing Novak to break him on the third chance and take the opener 7-5 after 67 minutes. Carried by this momentum, Djokovic sailed through his service games in set number two, winning 24 out of 28 points before the tie break and waiting for a possibility on the return that would have carried him over the finish line.
Marin saved two break points in game two and faced an ultimate challenger at 4-5 when he gave Novak a match point. It was another great serve that kept Cilic in the match, blasting two more service winners to level the score at 5-5, never facing another break point by the end of the encounter.
Novak opened a 4-1 lead in the tie break but Cilic stayed in touch with two winners, reducing the deficit and taking the next two points on Novak's serve after a double fault from the Serb and his forehand that forced the error from Djokovic.
Another powerful forehand earned the set point for Marin who completed the set with a forehand winner, taking the last six points to stay in the title hunt. Novak lost momentum on the return after wasting that match point, squandering a game point at 3-4 of the deciding set to lose serve when his backhand found the net.
Serving for his second Queen's title, Cilic blasted four service winners in game nine to start a massive celebration and lift the first trophy in 14 months.