LONDON: Croatia's Marin Cilic booked his first appearance in the final at Queen's Club after defeating former champion Sam Querrey 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in the semi-finals on Saturday.
Cilic is the first Croat to reach the Queen's final since Ivo Karlovic in 2005 and will play the winner of Saturday's other semi-final between former Wimbledon finalist David Nalbandian and Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov.
After missing the first seven weeks of the season with a knee injury, Cilic has gradually rediscovered his form and his shot-making ability eventually wore down Querrey.
Querrey, the world number 77, has an impressive record at this pre-Wimbledon warm-up event, winning the title in 2010 and losing just three times in 13 matches.
But Cilic had won the only previous meeting of these two 6ft 6in big servers over five sets at Wimbledon in 2009 and he has been in fine form of late.
The world number 25, who reached the Munich final in April, has been so dominant this week that he had only dropped serve twice during his three previous matches.
The sixth seed was soon under pressure in windy conditions, but he showed remarkable resolve to fend off nine break points in an epic third game that lasted 20 minutes.
Querrey, who needed treatment on his right thumb midway through the first set, initially seemed shell-shocked by his failure to convert so many break opportunities.
He struggled to find any rhythm and a tame forehand from the American on the first of three break points handed Cilic the chance to serve out the set.
Querrey finally recovered his equilibrium in the second set and began to put pressure on Cilic with a break in the second game.
Cilic responded with a break of his own in the next game, but Querrey took the set after breaking for a second time.
A double-fault by Querrey on break point gifted Cilic a 2-0 lead in the final set.
Querrey appeared to have earned a lifeline when he broke back with Cilic just two games from victory, but the Croatian responded superbly, breaking again and then serving out the win.