Spanish serve and volleyer Feliciano Lopez saw off former world #6 Gilles Simon 7-6 6-7 6-0 to claim only his third ATP Tour crown.
Both players were competing in their first ever final on grass, but were unable to play to their usual high standard because of the blustery conditions on Centre Court.
Lopez’s style is rare for a Spaniard, utilising slice shots to taking command at the net as well as thundering drives, but the weather did not permit for his full array of dangerous weapons to appear.
After a cagey couple of sets, the third set proved to be disappointing in both terms of quality and the way that Simon surrendered.
Lopez, the world #39, pulled off some impressive results – outfoxing Argentine Juan Monaco, compatriot Fernando Verdasco, Croatian Ivan Dodig and then Simon – to move onto Wimbledon as a winner.
He will face Simon again across the court in his very next competitive match, scheduled for Tuesday’s 1st Round contest at SW19, to make it two meetings in four days having not faced each other for five years.
Lopez, a three-time Wimbledon quarter-finalist, said:”Grass is my best surface, and to have at least one title on grass is very nice feeling.
“It is important to have some feedback before playing the same guy in two days, even though we know each other very well because almost every week we see each other.
“This match was really special, because it’s great to be in the finals and it was an opportunity to win another ATP event.”
Simon arrived at Devonshire Park having stuttered during the clay court season, following up a 1st Round exit at Monte Carlo in May with hefty defeats to the big guns of Andy Murray and Roger Federer at Madrid and Rome respectively.
He suddenly got his game on track on home soil at the French Open, taking Swiss master Federer to five sets in their 4th Round encounter. This result propelled him into Eastbourne high on confidence.
But the #2 seed almost came unstuck in his first match, requiring two tiebreaks to polish off British wildcard Kyle Edmund in their 2nd Round meeting.Australian ace Bernard Tomic was his next victim followed by a formidable display to easily oust no 7 seed Andreas Seppi, to deny the Italian a third successive Eastbourne final.
Simon’s game fell apart in the third set against Lopez, with neither able to produce their best tennis.
Lopez said, “I hope that we can play a better match at Wimbledon because today’s weather conditions made it tricky for us both.”