As Roland Garros finishes, we begin to turn to the grass season and our main attention turns to the Wimbledon fortnight. Before that, however, is another tournament in London, known as the Aegon Championships at the Queens Club.
This ATP 250 tournament is an ATP event only and is played two weeks before the main event at SW19. I’ve decided to put together a preview of the historic event.
The line-up for Queens is often strong and 2014’s is no different with 3 of the World’s top 10 in the draw including last year’s winner Andy Murray who looks to equal the record number of Queens title’s in 2014. Joining Murray as representatives of the World’s top 10 are Australian Open winner Stan Wawrinka and former Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych. There are also many upcoming youngsters in the draw with players like Grigor Dimitrov, Dominic Thiem and Bernard Tomic trying to make a name for themselves. 4-time champion Lleyton Hewitt has also entered the event, looking to become the first player to win the Queens trophy 5 times. Brits Dan Evans, James Ward and Dan Cox all received wildcards into their home events whilst the other was given to Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, the former World number 8 who reached the Wimbledon semi-finals back in 2006.
Below are the 16 seeded players in the draw:
1 – Stan Wawrinka 9 – Marin Cilic
2 – Tomas Berdych 10 – Feliciano Lopez
3 – Andy Murray 11 – Vasek Pospisil
4 – Grigor Dimitrov 12 – Dimitry Tursunov
5 – Jo Wilfried-Tsonga 13 – Nicolas Mahut
6 – Kevin Anderson 14 – Jeremy Chardy
7 – Ernests Gulbis 15 – Radek Stepanek
8 – Alexandr Dolgopolov 16 – Julien Benneteau
The draw took place on Saturday afternoon and delivered some interesting first-round matchups, as well as some brilliant possibilities.
Possible QF’s (If draw goes with seedings)
Wawrinka (1) V Tsonga (5)
Dimitrov (4) V Dolgopolov (8)
Anderson (7) V Murray (3)
Berdych (2) V Gulbis (6)
Wawrinka (1) V Dimitrov (4)
Murray (3) V Berdych (2)
Obviously alot of tennis has to be played before the QF’s and SF’s are set but above is what the latter round would look like if the draw played out according to seedings.
In the first quarter, top seed Stan Wawrinka finds himself grouped with Jo Wilfried-Tsonga who both receive bye’s into the second round. A possible second round match with Baghdatis looms for Wawrinka with Tsonga set to play the battle of the youngsters with Dominic Thiem facing off against David Goffin. This quarter is arguably the most loaded with former champions Sam Querrey and Marin Cilic possible foes for both Stan and Jo.
In the second quarter, Grigor Dimitrov and Alexandr Dolgopolov are placed as the highest seeds with veteran Nicolas Mahut lurking as a possible contender. Brit James Ward starts off with a match against Blaz Rola with Dimitrov waiting in round 2. Dolgopolov is enjoying his best year on the tour and faces the winner of the all Uzbekistan clash between Denis Istomin and qualifier Farrukh Dustov.
Andy Murray, the defending champion, falls in the third quarter with big serving Kevin Anderson the other player receiving a bye. Murray will open his grass account against either Paul Henri-Mathieu or Aljaz Bedene before a possible meeting with Radek Stepanek. Anderson awaits the winner of Brit Daniel Evans or Jurgen Melzer in one of the ties of the first round.
The fourth and final quarter features 2nd seed Tomas Berdych and recent French Open semi-finalist Ernests Gulbis, who faced off in the Quarter-Finals in Paris. Berdych will play the winner of Dudi Sela or James Duckworth with Gulbis facing either Kenny De Schepper or Somdev Devvarman. The four-time champion Hewitt faces Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver with a possible 3rd round clash with Gulbis beckoning.
To view the full draw, go to: http://www.lta.org.uk/NewWebsite/LTA/Documents/Fans%20News%20and%20Major%20Events/AEGON%20Championships/2014/MDS.pdf
The obvious bets for the 2014 Aegon Championships champion would be Wawrinka, Berdych or Murray but if you’re looking for someone outside of these 3 then 6th seeded Gulbis could be thrown into the equation. His recent good form, including his first grand-slam semi-final at Roland Garros, will give him hope going into the grass season and his draw is positive for him despite the possibility of playing Hewitt in the 3rd round. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Murray and Gulbis face-off in the semi-final, with the match having the possibility to go either way.
Outside of the top 3 in the top half, Dimitrov looks a good bet to go far in the tournament with a decent draw for the young Bulgarian. His possible opponent in the semi-finals is difficult to predict with anyone out of Querrey, Cilic or Tsonga possibly being able to stop Wawrinka. However, Wawrinka could face Baghdatis in the 2nd round, who despite just returning from injury, won the recent challenger event in Nottingham and is most at home on the grass. If I had to put my neck on the line, I’d surprisingly pick Cilic to play Dimitrov in the semi-finals due to his strong performances at the Queens club in the past.
Monday’s Order of play
Monday’s order of play has been announced and this is particularly interesting for me as I’ve been lucky enough to be able to purchase tickets for the Centre Court on Monday.
Below is the schedule:
ALL 12:30pm starts (Local time)
James Ward V Blaz Rola
Jurgen Melzer V Daniel Evans
Lleyton Hewitt V Daniel Gimeno-Traver
Dusan Lajovic V Feliciano Lopez (10)
Grigor Dimitrov/Stan Wawrinka V Ken Skupski/Neal Skupski
Tim Smyczek V Bernard Tomic
Sam Querrey V Jeremy Chardy (14)
Adrian Mannarino V Daniel Cox
Marin Cilic/Andre Sa V Nicholas Monroe/Vasek Pospisil
Dudi Sela V James Duckworth
Michael Russell V Denis Kudla
Kenny De Schepper V Somdev Devvarman
Paul-Henri Mathieu V Aljaz Bedene
Matthew Ebden/Mariusz Frystenberg V Kevin Anderson/Jonathan Erlich
Marsel Ilhan V Nicolas Mahut (13)
Sergiy Stakhovsky V Daniel Brands
I hope you enjoy the start of the grass season, look out for my review of my day at Queens in the next few days.