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Dimitrov Reaches First Grass-Court Final, Faces Lopez

The Queen's Club, London, England

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World No. 13 Grigor Dimitrov reached his first ATP World Tour grass-court final on Saturday at the Aegon Championships as he upset top seed Stan Wawrinka 6-2, 6-4 at The Queen’s Club. 

The Bulgarian is looking to win his fourth ATP World Tour title, adding to triumphs in Bucharest (d. Rosol) and Acapulco (d. Anderson) earlier this year and Stockholm last October (d. Ferrer). In Sunday’s final he will face Feliciano Lopez, whom he lost to at The Queen’s Club four years ago in their one previous meeting.

"It's a good feeling," said Dimitrov. "I always wanted to be in a final out here, stepping on there on Sunday means a lot to me, especially out here. I don't know why I have such a strong intuition about this tournament. It has always been one of the biggest events for me, for some reason. There's nothing better than to be in the final. I'm sure I'm going to go out there and give 100 per cent from myself."

The fourth-seeded Dimitrov broke Wawrinka’s serve for the first time in the tournament as he took an early 3-2 lead. After closing out the first set with a second service break, the 23 year old fended off two break points in the early stages of the second set before breaking Wawrinka in the seventh game. He claimed victory in 62 minutes.

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"I didn't serve the way I wanted and didn't move well," reflected Wawrinka. "But I think Grigor was playing well, being really aggressive, serving big and mixing it up a lot."

Wawrinka took a wild card into this ATP World Tour 250 tournament looking to win his first grass-court title after a shock first-round exit at Roland Garros (l. to Garcia-Lopez). The Swiss, who won his first Grand Slam championship at the Australian Open in January (d. Nadal), has a 24-7 match record on the season.

"I think so far it's been a positive week except today," said Wawrinka. "I was playing well. I can still improve, for sure. I have time for Wimbledon to get ready. I need to do more hours on the practice court, more exercise with Magnus [Norman]."

Like Wawrinka, Dimitrov came into Queen's on the back of a first-round exit at Roland Garros, losing to Ivo Karlovic. "It took a lot of, I would say, courage for me to just come right up here and sort of grind out there on the grass court and finding a way to get through every day with that stinging pain from the French Open," admitted the right-hander. 

"It was just painful. I was dwelling on it every day. But at the same time that pushed me into those hard sessions on and off the court. Eventually it put me in a really good position. I was really positive coming into this week."

In the second semi-final, Lopez came through a highly entertaining contest with Radek Stepanek to win 7-6(7), 6-4. Lopez let slip a 6-3 lead in the tie-break, courtesy of some inspired tennis by Stepanek that brought the fans to their feet, but recovered to take the opener. One break of serve sufficed in the second set as he prevailed in one hour and 42 minutes.

Lopez"We both played a great match today," said Lopez. "The quality of the tennis I played personally was amazing during almost the whole match consistently. And I think he also played great. It was a matter of few points that came to my side, especially in the tie-break when I was 6-3 up and then he came back. Then winning the first set for me was very important."

Both Lopez and Stepanek had caused significant upsets to reach the semi-finals. Stepanek ousted defending champion Andy Murray in the third round, while Lopez upset second seed Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals.

The 32-year-old Lopez will aim to win his second ATP World Tour grass-court title, following on from victory in Eastbourne last year (d. Simon). The Spanish left-hander has a 3-6 finals record.

Looking ahead to the clash with Dimitrov, Lopez said, "Obviously tomorrow is going to be so different [than four years ago]. He's a completely different player than he was when we played here a few years ago. As he showed today, he's playing great. He beat [Wawrinka] easily today. He's going to be very confident tomorrow. If I want to win, I have to play like I did today: very aggressive, consistent.  If I play like this, I will have my opportunities, I think."

Peya/Soares To Face Murray/Peers In Final
Second seeds Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares reached their fourth ATP World Tour final of the season as they beat 2008 champions Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic 7-5, 6-4 at the Aegon Championships.

The Austrian/Brazilian duo are searching for their ninth team title. They lifted five trophies last year and went on to reach the semi-finals of the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals (l. to Bryans). They have been denied three more titles this season, finishing runners-up in Doha, Auckland and Indian Wells.

In the final they will face Jamie Murray and John Peers, who upset seventh seeds and Roland Garros champions Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-4, 7-6(4). Britain’s Murray and Peers of Australia are chasing their second team title of the season after victory in Munich (d. Fleming/Hutchins).

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