Andy Murray enjoyed the winning feeling (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)Andy Murray’s competitive comeback finished on the sweetest possible note as he lifted the doubles title along with partner Feliciano Lopez, beating his compatriot Joe Salisbury and American partner Rajeev Ram 7-6 (8-6) 5-7 10-5 in Sunday’s final.
It looked as if the three-time Grand Slam champion’s career was drawing to a close at the start of the year when he tearfully announced plans to retire but ‘life-changing’ hip surgery has allowed him to return to compete at the highest level.
While the long-term goal is to resurrect his singles career, Murray has proven himself to be a fine doubles player already on the grass and he will fancy his chances of winning a first doubles Grand Slam – and fourth in total – at Wimbledon next month.
It was the former world No. 1’s first doubles title since teaming up with his brother Jamie in Tokyo in 2011, while it had been nearly two-and-a-half years since winning a title of any description, having last got his hands on a trophy in Dubai in 2017.
Loepez and Murray were victorious (Picture: Getty Images)More success may well be on the way. Murray will link up with Brazil’s Marcelo Melo in Eastbourne next week before heading to Wimbledon alongside French four-time Grand Slam doubles champion Pierre-Hugues Herbert. It’s clear Murray will not be just making up the numbers at the All England Club.
Title aside, arguably the most important victory of the week was the physical test he passed, having undergone a hip resurfacing operation at the end of January. Murray insists he is pain-free and there is renewed optimism he can return to the top of the singles game.
For now, he can bask in the glory of winning Queen’s, while tournament organisers can be thankful he chose to make his comeback this week after posting record-high attendances.
Lopez, 37, had won his most recent title just hours earlier after beating Gilles Simon in the singles and he became the first man since Australia’s Mark Philippoussis in 1997 to win both singles and doubles at the Fever-Tree Championships.
‘It’s been brilliant,’ Murray said. ‘I really enjoyed it. I was very relaxed at the beginning of the week but I started getting more and more nervous as my competitive instincts started kicking in. I’m happy to be back on the court.
‘He [Lopez] was brilliant. There’s nothing else to say. An amazing win today in the singles and even in the end of the match there he came up with some amazing returns. He was so, so good.’
Lopez added: ‘I’m so happy for this man playing with me. Andy, we’re so happy you’re back on a tennis court.’
The final shot in the singles final was struck at 4.34pm and an hour and seven minutes later the first point was played in the doubles.
After the on-court trophy presentation, singles champion Lopez decided to leave his red racquet bag by the bench to save carrying it off and on again when he returned with Murray.
Ram and Salisbury were beaten (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)It was clear the Spaniard – playing his fifth match in two days – was doing his best to conserve energy, often remaining standing at changeovers to minimise the risk of seizing up between games.
After failing to convert a break point, Murray was broken after an impressive game from fellow Brit Salisbury – who is making a strong case to make his Davis Cup debut at the inaugral finals in Madrid later this year – but Ram failed to serve it out as Murray and Lopez forced a breaker.
The most humorous moment of the contest came in the tiebreak. Umpire Mohamed Lahyani raised his hand to apologise for continually mispronouncing Salisbury’s name (saying sal-is-berry rather than souls-bree). He was heartily applauded by the British faithful when he finally cracked it on the next point.
A second set point was saved by Murray and Lopez when 6-5 down before the British-Spanish pairing converted one of their own to move in front.
Murray berated himself in trademark fashion after squandering three break point chances at 3-3 and they were made to pay as a miscued volley from Lopez allowed Ram and Salisbury to level.
Ultimately, though, it was Murray and Lopez’s day and they wrapped up a pulsating victory after an hour and 51 minutes.