Wimbledon.com's guide to the 2014 grass court season...
AEGON CHAMPIONSHIPS – The Queen's Club, London, UK
Andy Murray will be hunting a fourth Aegon Championships title when the grass-court season gets underway on June 9th. The British No.1 is looking to join some illustrious names atop the tournament leader board with John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Lleyton Hewitt and Andy Roddick each having won at The Queen’s Club four times.
Murray takes a 12-match winning streak on grass into his ninth appearance at the West London club. He saw off Marin Cilic in last year’s final before going on to become the first British man in 77 years to hold aloft the Wimbledon trophy. In doing so, he became the seventh different player to complete The Queen's Club-Wimbledon double in the same year after John McEnroe (‘81, ‘84), Jimmy Connors (‘82), Boris Becker (‘85), Pete Sampras (‘95, ‘99), Lleyton Hewitt (‘02) and Rafael Nadal (‘08).
Murray, who won his first professional match at Queen’s, also became the first three-time British champion since Francis Gordon Lowe (1913-14, '25) when he clinched his Aegon Championships hat-trick. A win this year would see him surpass his compatriot.
The defending champion is joined in the 56-man draw by world No. 3 Stanislas Wawrinka, No. 6 Tomas Berdych and No. 12 Grigor Dimitrov, who are all bidding for a maiden title on grass. The Swiss No. 1 was a late entrant to the field, taking a wild card into the tournament after a surprise first-round exit at the French Open.
There are three former champions hopeful of wrestling back the trophy at this year’s event: Hewitt (’00-02, ‘06), Sam Querrey (‘10) and Marin Cilic (‘12).
Four-time winner Hewitt would become the most decorated player in tournament history if he were to win the title. The Australian, who rolled back the years with a run to the semi-final last year, is one of just two active players – along with Federer – to have won more than 100 matches on grass. The former Wimbledon champion has registered 120 wins on the surface, while Federer has 122.
Who’s playing: Stanislas Wawrinka, Tomas Berdych, Andy Murray, Grigor Dimitrov, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Kevin Anderson, Ernests Gulbis, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Marin Cilic, Lleyton Hewitt
Defending champion: Andy Murray
Did you know?
The Aegon Championships will move from an ATP World Tour 250 to a 500 in 2015. The tournament upgrade is part of a plan to extend the grass-court season to five weeks, with Wimbledon starting on the last Monday in June – one week later than usual. Queen’s, which was first held in 1889, was voted ATP 250 Tournament of the Year by the players in 2013.
GERRY WEBER OPEN – Halle, Germany
The lowdown: Four of the world’s top 10 players will line out for the 22nd edition of the Gerry Weber Open in Halle. The field is led by world No.1 Rafael Nadal, No.4 Roger Federer, No.9 Milos Raonic and No.10 Kei Nishikori.
Nadal, whose only grass-court appearance last year came at Wimbledon, returns to Halle for the third time. The top seed fell in the first round on his debut there in 2005 but reached the quarter-final two years ago. The Spaniard is bidding for his fourth title on grass after winning Wimbledon (2008 and 2010) and the Aegon Championships (2008).
Defending champion Federer has reached the final eight years in succession and is seeking an unprecedented seventh title in the German city. Four of his wins in Halle have preceded successful runs at The All England Club.
Raonic and Nishikori, two of the standout players in 2014, will also be looking to string some wins together on the grass ahead of Wimbledon. So too will Germany’s Tommy Haas and Philipp Kohlschreiber, who are both former champions at their home event.
Who’s playing: Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori, Richard Gasquet, Mikhail Youzhny, Tommy Haas, Jerzy Janowicz, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Gael Monfils
Defending champion: Roger Federer
Did you know?
There have been five German winners in Halle since the inaugural event in 1993: Michael Stich (1994), Nicolas Kiefer (1999), David Prinosil (2000), Tommy Haas (2009 & 2012) and Philipp Kohlschreiber (2011).
AEGON CLASSIC – Birmingham, UK
The lowdown: The women get their first chance of competitive action on the grass when the Aegon Classic gets underway in Birmingham on June 9th.
Last year’s winner Daniela Hantuchova is looking to become the fifth player to defend her title at The Edgbaston Priory Club and the first since Maria Sharapova in 2004 and 2005 – there have been 13 different winners in the last 14 years. Sharapova made history in 2004 when she became the first and only player to do the Birmingham-Wimbledon double in the same year.
Edgbaston, which has crowned champions such as Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King and Li Na, is headlined this year by 2007 champion Jelena Jankovic and her fellow Serbian Ana Ivanovic.
Two of the stars of Wimbledon 2013 also line out – Sabine Lisicki and Kirsten Flipkens. As do youngsters Sloane Stephens, Eugenie Bouchard and Serena Williams’ French Open conqueror Garbine Muguruza.
From a British perspective, all eyes will be on Heather Watson as the Guernsey girl looks to carry her Roland Garros form onto the grass.
Who’s playing: Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic, Sabine Lisicki, Sloane Stephens, Eugenie Bouchard, Sam Stosur, Kirsten Flipkens, Lucie Safarova, Daniela Hantuchova
Defending champion: Daniela Hantuchova
Did you know?
Held at EPC since 1982, the tournament is played on grass courts and is a WTA International event. The tournament was formerly known as the DFS Classic where Billie Jean King was the tournament’s inaugural champion.
AEGON INTERNATIONAL – Eastbourne, UK
The lowdown: Week two of the grass-court season brings the ATP and WTA together for the Aegon International at Eastbourne and the UNICEF Open at `s-Hertogenbosch, in The Netherlands.
Elena Vesnina and Feliciano Lopez both return to defend their titles in the coastal town of Eastbourne.
The women’s field features 10 of the world’s top 20 players, including four of the top 10 – 2008 champion Agnieszka Radwanska, Petra Kvitova, Jelena Jankovic and Angelique Kerber.
The illustrious list of former champions includes four Wimbledon winners – Martina Navratilova, Jana Novtona, Lindsay Davenport and Marion Bartoli.
Richard Gasquet is the highest ranked player in the men’s draw. The Frenchman won back-to-back Aegon International titles in 2005 and 2006 when the tournament was held at Nottingham. He is one of three former champions – along with Lopez and Andreas Seppi – in the draw.
Who’s playing: Agnieszka Radwanska, Petra Kvitova, Jelena Jankovic, Angelique Kerber, Sara Errani, Caroline Wozniacki, Richard Gasquet, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Gilles Simon and Feliciano Lopez
Defending champion: Men: Feliciano Lopez. Women: Elena Vesnina.
Did you know?
Martina Navratilova holds the record for the most singles titles at Eastbourne with 11. It marks the second-most times any player has won a WTA event behind Navratilova's 12 titles in Chicago. She also was victorious in doubles at Eastbourne six times with Pam Shriver.
TOPSHELF – `s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands
The Topshelf Open offers many players the last chance to get in some competitive grass-court tennis ahead of Wimbledon. The event launched as an ATP tournament in 1990 and became a joint event six years later.
At last season’s tournament, Frenchman Nicolas Mahut came through qualifying to clinch a maiden singles title at 31 years old, defeating world No.10 Stan Wawrinka in the final. At No.240 in the world, he was the lowest ranked winner on the ATP World Tour since No.244 Kei Nishikori won Delray Beach in 2008.
Mahut returns to defend his title this year and will face stiff competition from another former winner, world No.5 David Ferrer. The Spaniard lifted his only grass-court titles in ‘s-Hertogenbosch in 2008 and 2012. Other former champions in this year’s field include Dmitry Tursunov and Benjamin Becker.
A strong women’s field is led by defending champion Simona Halep. The Romanian clinched her second career title here last year, one week after winning a maiden crown in Nürnberg. She’ll look to become just the second female player to defend their title there, after Thai Tamarine Tanasugarn.
Dominika Cibulkova, Carla Suarez Navarro, Eugenie Bouchard, Kirsten Flipkens and Andrea Petkovic, who have all reached the final four at a Grand Slam in the last 12 months, also feature.
Who’s playing: David Ferrer, Nicolas Mahut, Fernando Verdasco, Simona Halep, Dominika Cibulkova, Carla Suarez Navarro, Eugenie Bouchard, Kirsten Flipkens, Andrea Petkovic.
Defending champion: Men: Nicolas Mahut. Women: Simona Halep.
Did you know?
Former Dutch Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek and his half-sister Michaella Krajicek have both won the tournament on home soil, Richard in 1994, Michaella 12 years later.
20:08It brings me no pleasure but it's time to bring the curtain down for another year. Seemed somehow appropriate to leave the last word to Roger Federer. Thanks a billion for reading. What a fortnight, what a final, fast forward to 2015 please...
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