Wildcard Djokovic seemed agitated at times as Chardy, who has won 12 of 13 matches on grass over the past three weeks, proved a tricky opponent.
"I felt that I was serving really good using all parts of the court really well".
The deadlock in that was broken at 4-4 when, on a second deuce, Cilic used his enormous wingspan to hit a miraculous forehand victor down the line to set up a break point, which was converted when Djokovic netted a straightforward backhand.
"It was very pleasing to go through to the final".
"I actually came at the right time", Djokovic said.
"It's a great occasion".
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"I haven't been here [at Queen's] in eight years but now I know how it feels I'm going to be coming back each year". "I was more kind of like chipping and trying to get it back in play, but it wasn't enough".
But he banished his nearly-man tag with a gutsy comeback to claim only his second win in 16 attempts against Djokovic, clinching his 18th career ATP title and his first since Istanbul previous year.
He lost to Italian Marco Cecchinato in the French Open quarterfinals and has made only one other semifinal in 2018.
He hasn't earned a major title since competing his career Grand Slam by winning the 2016 French Open. The 12-time Grand Slam champion follows in the footsteps of Jimmy Connors (1,256), Roger Federer (1,156), Ivan Lendl (1,068), Guillermo Vilas (949), Rafael Nadal (903), John McEnroe (881), Andre Agassi (870), Ilie Nastase (846) and Stefan Edberg (801).
He had already spoiled Andy Murray's first appearance after 11 months on the sidelines with a hip injury when he beat the five-time Queen's victor in the first round on Tuesday.
'I think the key will be obviously try to return well, because that's his biggest weapon, his serve.
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Djokovic had won all 10 of their encounters without dropping a single one of their 24 sets.
Although Kyrgios escaped a code violation, the BBC, broadcasting the match live, were forced to apologise after his expletives were picked up by their microphones.
Winning the longest final in Queen's history - at two hours and 57 minutes - was just reward for Cilic's superb week on the lawns of Barons Court, which banked him a cheque for £413,601 ($548,764).
Cilic, 29, is bidding to win Queen's for the second time after lifting the trophy in 2012 and finishing as runner-up in 2013 and 2017.
This was their 16th meeting and the second straight win for Marin after Paris 2016, losing the first 14 encounters against the great rival who was competing in his first ATP final since Eastbourne past year. "I've played great tennis throughout this week and have another shot at the title", Cilic said.
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