Grass court season lays paths to Wimbledon
The focus now shifts to the British Isles after the Grand Slam in Paris concluded the Clay court season. The competition on the lush green turf is already into the second week as gentlemen and ladies are playing matches to become familiar with the surface, as a prelude to the only Grand Slam still played on grass.
The ATP Tour grass court tournaments commenced with the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart last week, where Lucas Pouille of France won the Singles, while Jamie Murray and his partner, Brazil’s Bruno Soares won the Doubles. During the same week, Gilles Muller of Luxembourg won the singles while Poland’s Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo of Brasil won the Doubles in Hertogenbosch Netherlands.
The WTA started with this week’s event in Mallorca, Spain, featuring top seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who has defeated Wild Card entry Tormo Sorribes Sara of Spain in three sets to progress. Other seeded players are Caroline Garcia, Carla Suarez Navarro, Kiki Bertens and Roberta Vinci.
Concurrently, the ladies are competing at the Aegon International in Birmingham where top seeded Angelique (still number 1, thanks to Simona Halep’s loss in Roland Garros) pulled out because of a hamstring injury. However, the German southpaw is optimistic of full strength when Wimbledon kicks off on July 3. The ladies will round up their preparations in Eastbourne International that will end on July 1.
Grass court tennis was introduced to Germany after Boris Becker won the 1985 Wimbledon title as a 17-year old wunderkind. This week, the men are in Halle Germany where Roger Federer seeks a ninth title that would heal his first round loss to Tommy Haas in Stuttgart. Other top players in Halle are Dominic Thiem, Kei Nishikori and Alexander Zverev. The Japanese star is already through to the second round with a 7/5; 6/3 victory over Germany’s Maximilian Marterer.
In a reverse of the result in Paris, Richard Gasquet prevailed over compatriot Gael Monfils 3/6; 6/4; 6/3.
The WTA tune-up tournaments will conclude with the Antalya Open in Turkey and the Aegon International in Eastbourne to be played from June 26 to July 1. As these two events end so close to the July 3 take-off of The Championships Wimbledon, many top players do not feature.
The high point in the tune-ups for men is traditionally at the Queen’s Club, Palliser Road Barons Court in West London. The world’s number one and top seeded Andy Murray is aiming at a third consecutive title. The finalist in Roland Garros, Stan Wawrinka is seeded second, followed successively by Milos Raonic, Marin Cilic and Joe Wilfried Tsonga.