Lopez celebrates double Queen’s Club triumph

So in the end, it was all about the triumph of experience over youth, as the thirty somethings prevailed at the business end of the Fever-Tree Championships at Queen’s.

A week that contained so much breathless excitement about newcomers to the stage ended with the canny warhorses holding court and seizing the prizes.

Feliciano Lopez achieved a superb singles and doubles triumph, which even he thought beyond him at 37. But he breezed through a punishing schedule – not helped by Tuesday’s total washout and a curtailed programme on Wednesday – to claim two trophies in an afternoon.

First he overcame Frenchman Gilles Simon – only three years his junior – after an absorbing three setter, taking the decider 7-2 on a tie-break after being pegged back in a second set tie-breaker.

He had won the first set 6-2, but Simon was not about to go quietly, having himself enjoyed a thrilling week in which the exuberance and supposed superior stamina of younger players was finally shown to be a misleading fallacy.

Then the Spaniard got on with the job of ensuring Andy Murray’s joyous comeback following radical hip surgery ended in silverware for the Scot – the pair prevailing 7-6 (8-6), 5-7, 10-5 against Rajeev Ram of the USA and Brit Joe Salisbury.

Poor Salisbury. On any other occasion he would have had the centre court crowd cheering his every point. Here, they just wanted to see Murray succeed, and to witness proof that the hero of Wimbledons past is truly pain-free and capable of being competitive once more.

Already there is talk of a possible return to the frontline of singles action in the US Open in August – the venue where Murray claimed the first of his three career Grand Slams, in 2012.

It has been the theme of modern tennis – the career longevity of the very best players, and in particular the dominant group of Nadal, Djokovic and Federer. Age does not wither them.

But both Lopez and Simon proved that even those below the upper echelons of the game have much to teach the pretenders.

Nowhere was that more in evidence than in Saturday’s semi-finals day.

The week had been dominated by the brilliance of 18-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime, who has burst onto the scene to rise into the top 20 rankings after reaching three ATP finals.

In despatching Grigor Dimitrov and Nick Kyrgios in one afternoon, he underlined his incredible talent and temperament, especially when it came to facing break-points and dealing with moddy, distracting opponents like the Aussie Kyrgios.

But Lopez found a way of unsettling him. The Spaniard’s superior know-how, especially on grass, enabled him to mix it up and offer problems and pressures the young Canadian had not faced before.

Slowly but surely, his game unravelled and the accuracy and concentration which had underpinned a valiant campaign deserted him. He will come good in the long run. That much seems certain. But for now, there are still some very clever operators he has to learn from.

For Lopez, it was a second Queen’s title following his win against Marin Cilic two summers ago.

And what of Simon? He was more than a footnote. He saw off another of the younger guns in his semi-final, the 23-year-old Russian Daniil Medvedev, in another long match – prolonged because both players were welded to the baseline and engaged in one exhausting rally after another. One of them lasted 49 shots in a contest which went on for more than two and a half hours.

But that was nothing compared to the previous round for Simon, when he took part in the longest singles match recorded at Queen’s against compatriot Nicolas Mahut. Their three setter went on for three hours and 21 minutes.

Mahut, like Lopez, is 37. This current breed of elite tennis player clearly doesn’t run out of energy – or skills – when entering the supposed twilight of a career.