Defending champion Matteo Berrettini has stayed on course for back-to-back grass-court titles, recovering from a set down to beat lucky loser Denis Kudla and reach the Queen’s Club quarter-finals.
Berrettini won 3-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 on Thursday and looks well set to retain his Queen’s crown as one of just two seeded players in the last eight.
The second-seeded Italian, who beat Andy Murray in the Stuttgart final on Sunday, has only recently returned from three months out because of hand injury.
He started off being sluggish with his groundstrokes throughout a hard-fought match in balmy conditions in west London.
Berrettini’s booming serve, which took him to the Wimbledon final last year, eventually bailed him out after Kudla, ranked No. 82, won the first set without facing a break point.
Three aces from Berrettini helped him win the second-set tiebreaker, after which he called for the trainer.
Berrettini broke for 3-2 in the third set, was immediately broken himself, then benefited from a unforced error at the net by Kudla to break again for 5-4.
The Italian saved a break point in the next game, during which he sent down a serve at 225kph, and clinched the match at the first attempt with a winner from a backhand volley.
Berrettini, who had 22 aces and 33 unforced errors, beat Cameron Norrie in last year’s final of the Wimbledon warm-up event and has now won 17 of his last 18 matches on grass.
Norrie is one of six seeded players already out before the second round has even finished, with No.7 Marin Cilic the only other seeded player through.
Berrettini next faces American Tommy Paul, who beat three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka 6-1 6-4 earlier on Thursday to follow up his victory over sixth-seeded Denis Shapovalov in the first round.