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LONDON, June 24 (Reuters) - Fourth seed Marin Cilic dropped serve for the first time all week but recovered to stop Gilles Muller in the semi-finals of the Aegon Championships on Saturday, winning 6-3 5-7 6-4.
Neither player had surrendered serve en route to the last four so it was a surprise when Cilic broke left-hander Muller in the fifth game before wrapping up the opening set quickly.
Cilic failed to convert his opportunities in the second set, however, and one lapse of concentration at 5-6 blotted his copybook to allow Muller to snatch the second set.
It was nothing more than an inconvenience though as Croatian Cilic, also in doubles semi-final action later, broke in the seventh game of the decider and powered home to victory, sealing it with a second-serve ace on match point.
"Today's match was a really high level," world number seven Cilic, coached by former grasscourt specialist Jonas Bjorkman, said on Queen's Club's centre court.
"I played really well throughout and Gilles was pushing me to the limits. I've felt really good on serve all week and today I was mixing it up and playing smart."
Defeat ended 34-year-old Muller's grasscourt winning streak on seven but the Luxembourg player will head to Wimbledon in high spirits after another impressive week on the lawns, following his title run in Den Bosch.
Cilic, Queen's winner in 2012, will play either Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov or Spain's Feliciano Lopez in the final. (Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)