Queen’s Club takes centre stage as Wimbledon approaches.
The grass court season begins in earnest next week with three European tournaments giving leading players the chance to prepare for Wimbledon. Men’s events in Halle and at Queen’s Club have attracted strong fields while six of the world’s top 20 women will head to Birmingham for the Aegon Classic. Keep reading for our preview of all next week’s tennis action.
The Aegon Championships
As the tournament at Queen’s Club gets under way it reminds us that Wimbledon is just around the corner. Fans in West Kensington this year are going to see a man who became the seventh player to do the Queen’s/Wimbledon double in the same season when he won in SW19 last year.
Andy Murray is the favourite at Queen’s having won the title in 2009, 2011 and 2013. The Scot has beaten Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in three sets in each of the last three years and the Frenchman could once again be his main rival.
Tomas Berdych and Grigor Dimitrov are also among the leading seeds while the big-serving Marin Cilic has reached the final at this event in each of the last two years, winning in 2012.
Gerry Weber Open
The alternative grass court preparation to the Queen’s Club is in Halle this week. The Gerry Weber Open is one of five grass court events on the ATP World Tour calendar and gives players their first chance to play on the surface in the lead-up to Wimbledon. And, this year’s event boasts its strongest line-up ever.
After his fourth round defeat to Ernests Gulbis at the French Open, reigning Halle champion Roger Federer admitted that he had already started thinking about his grass court season. The former world number one said: “Mentally I have already switched to the grass, to be quite hones. For me, it’s like, ‘OK, clay-court season was fun, but we are moving on.’ Clay doesn’t need me anymore, I got flushed out here.”
Spanish favourite, Rafael Nadal is the top seed and the man to beat in Germany. Nadal will be making his third main draw appearance in Halle, and reached the quarter-finals on his last visit in 2012. Commenting on the tournmaent, he said:
“I urgently want to have a successful start to the grass court season. Halle is a tremendously organised tournament with a great audience. Everybody wants to play their best tennis”.
Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori and Richard Gasquet also feature as does two-time winner Tommy Haas.
Six of the world top 20 women will be in Birmingham next week for the Aegon Classic. A chance to get some grass-court practice before Wimbledon, there’s a strong field heading to the Midlands for the event considered the sister tournament to Queen’s Club.
The grass court favours Sabine Lisicki as she showed when she reached the final at Wimbledon in 2013. The 24 year old has a terrific record on grass and won this tournament in 2011 on the way to the Wimbledon semi-final. The German is certainly one to watch.
Hard-hitting Serb Jelena Jankovic has reached the Birmingham final on three occasions, winning the title in 2007 after a fantastic tussle with Maria Sharapova.
The world number 7 said:
I’m thrilled to be playing the Aegon Classic again this year. Birmingham’s a great city and I really enjoy playing on the grass there. I have particularly fond memories of playing at the Edgbaston Priory Club in 2007, as I won the title and then went on to win the mixed doubles at Wimbledon with Jamie Murray. I know the player field will be as strong as ever, particularly as the tournament has been upgraded to WTA Premier status.
Ana Ivanovic, Sloane Stephens, Sam Stosur and 2013 champion Daniela Hantuchova are also in the draw in what promises to be an action-packed schedule in the build-up to the climax of the grass-court season, Wimbledon 2014.
You can bet on all the grass-court action ahead of Wimbledon on our tennis betting page where we’ll have per-tournament and in-play betting on all the players and matches throughout the Summer tennis season.