Lopez saw off sixth seed Grigor Dimitrov 7-5 3-6 6-2 to exact some revenge for his loss in the final three years ago. Back then Lopez held a championship point against Dimitrov before crashing to a three set defeat.
The 35-year-old will face Cilic for the eighth time. However the omens aren’t propitious. He has only beaten the 28-year-old Croatian twice and both of those victories were on clay. Cilic has won their two encounters on grass which have both come at Queen’s.
“I’m very happy to be in the final because it’s one of my most special tournaments,” Lopez said. “I would love to win this title. I’ve played some of my best tennis all week.”
Cilic, who claimed the Queen’s crown in 2012 and lost in the final to Andy Murray in 2013, has coped with the pressure of being the highest ranked player in the tournament all week following opening round losses for the top seed Murray, second seed Stan Wawrinka and third seed Milos Raonic.
The world number seven is seeking a second title this year and 18th in total, following his success in Istanbul last month.
“The match against Gilles was a really high level,” said Cilic. “I’ve felt really good on serve all week.”