Marin Cilic defeated Novak Djokovic 5-7 7-6 6-3 to capture the Queens Club title, the result is a big one for Cilic as he won the match despite a steep h2h disadavantage against the Serbian superstar and he came back from a set down to win.
Cilic claimed his first title of 2018 after wins against Fernando Verdasco, Gilles Muller, Sam Querrey, and Nick Kyrgios to reach the final. He dropped sets to Muller and Djokovic but all in all put together a tremendous week on grass against solid competition that suggests he could win the Wimbledon title in a few weeks time.
Djokovic is rounding into form on grass as he blitzed past John Millman, Grigor Dimitrov, Adrian Mannarino, and Jeremy Chardy to reach the final without dropping a set. Alongside Cilic he will have a great chance of winning Wimbledon.
Henri Kontinen and John Peers defeated Murray/Soares in the doubles final.
Croatia’s Borna Coric stunned Roger Federer 7-6 3-6 6-2 in Halle to claim his second career ATP title, this time on grass as a massive underdog. Coric didn’t drop a set until the final as he blitzed past Alexander Zverev, Nikoloz Basilashvili, Andreas Seppi, and Roberto Bautista Agut.
Federer struggled while reaching the final, as he was challenged by Aljaz Bedene, Benoit Paire, Matthew Ebden, and Denis Kudla. Coric was his toughest opponent of the tournament and at that point he finally suffered a loss. His first on grass this season.
Kubot/Melo beat the Zverev brothers to win the doubles final.
Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, and Stan Wawrinka All In Action at ATP London Queens Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The Fever-Tree Championships 500 on Grass at London Queens is a pivotal warm-up tournament for Wimbledon, accordingly many ATP stars are back in action including Andy Murray who returns to the ATP Tour after a long injury layoff. Here is your look at all the action.
Marin Cilic, the top seed, faces Fernando Verdasco round 1 and Denis Shapovalov or Gilles Muller round 2, a pretty brutal opening start. Cilic is good enough on this surface though to suggest he’ll win both matches and reach the quarterfinals.
Stan Wawrinka is not in good form but Cam Norrie and Jay Clarke or Sam Querrey isn’t the worst start in the world. I’ll back Wawrinka to edge Norrie but fall to Sam Querrey as Querrey should reach the quarterfinals before losing to Cilic.
Milos Raonic played well in Stuttgart, reaching the final, and should ease past Yuki Bhambri and Feliciano Lopez or David Goffin to reach the quarters. I’ll back Lopez to upset Goffin but Raonic to win the section and defeat Nick Kyrgios in the quarters. Kyrgios also had a great run on grass in Stuttgart and should defeat Andy Murray in his return from a hip injury. Kyle Edmund is also in this section and should defeat Ryan Harrison before falling to Kyrgios.
With #2 seed Grigor Dimitrov struggling look for Novak Djokovic to benefit. Djokovic should defeat qualifier John Millman and then Dimitrov (or Damir Dzumhur) to reach the quarters. I’ll back wild card Dan Evans to await Djokovic at that stage, Evans has been fantastic on grass since returning from a drug ban, he should beat a struggling Adrian Mannarino, and Tomas Berdych or Julien Benneteau before falling to Djokovic.
Kevin Anderson looks set to make a nice run, Leonardo Mayer and Jared Donaldson or Frances Tiafoe will be his first set of opponents. Jack Sock could await in the quarters with Sock facing Daniil Medvedev and Tim Smyczek or Jeremy Chardy in round 2. I’ll back Medvedev over Sock and Chardy but Anderson to win the quarterfinal.
2017 ATP London Queens Preview and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
It’s one of the biggest ATP tournaments on the calendar up this week, the player and fan favorite Aegon Championships in London. This is the biggest ATP World Tour grass court stop, and here is your complete preview, with predictions.
ATP World Tour 500
June 19-25, 2017
London, Great Britain
Prize Money: €1,836,660
Top 4 seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Andy Murray (1)
2: Stan Wawrinka (3)
3: Milos Raonic (6)
4: Marin Cilic (8)
London Queen’s is the biggest warmup tournament prior to Wimbledon as most of the top players look to get in at least a couple of matches prior to taking part in a Grand Slam.
First round matches to watch:
(1)Andy Murray vs. Aljaz Bedene
five-time and defending Queen’s club champion Andy Murray shouldn’t have any trouble out of the starting blocks, but Aljaz Bedene is an in-form dark horse who has nothing to lose in this one. Bedene comes off the quarters in Rosmalen and has enough of a game on grass to catch Murray if the Brit struggles with his serve. Murray should win this one in straights, but it’s a good form test for him.
(4)Marin Cilic vs John Isner
The Rosmalen semifinalist Cilic should be safe in this one but Isner is not the easiest round one opponent on grass. Cilic has been in good form as of late, and if Isner can rise up and get an upset that would be huge. Expect at least one tiebreak in this one, with Cilic getting another quality win.
(2)Stan Wawrinka vs. Feliciano Lopez
Wawrinka’s worst surface is Lopez best and that sets up the potential for an upset in this match. Lopez comes off the final in Stuttgart, as he found form on grass already, while the Roland Garros finalist Wawrinka is playing his first match on the surface this year. Wawrinka is the better player, and he won’t back down easily in this one, but Lopez is my upset pick, as his serve and volley should annoy the Swiss into submission.
Murray/Bedene will face Cam Norrie or Sam Querrey in round 2, Querrey is another dangerous player on grass who could catch Murray if the Brit is having a bad day. Presuming Murray makes the quarters, Gilles Muller is his most likely opponent, I have the Rosmalen champion defeating Nikoloz Basilashvili and the winner of Adrian Mannarino/Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Tsonga is good on grass, and Mannarino is no slouch either, but Muller’s form is fearsome right now, and if Murray gets to the semis, it won’t be because he had an easy path.4
Nick Kyrgios and Cilic/Isner look set to face off in the other top half quarterfinal, Kyrgios is hoping that grass will bring him better form. The Aussie starts with a struggling Donald Young, and then will face the Viktor Troicki/Janko Tipsarevic winner in that all-Serbian clash. Cilic/Isner will face an American, either Steve Johnson or Stefan Kozlov, in round 2. Johnson is dangerous, but Cilic’s form should be too much, as I have Cilic beating Kyrgios in the quarterfinals.
Presuming Lopez upsets Wawrinka, he should have a clear path to the quarters with Tomas Berdych most likely waiting there. Lopez will face either Pierre-Hugues Herbert or Jeremy Chardy in round 2, Kyle Edmund should beat young qualifier Denis Shapovalov before facing Berdych or Steve Darcis. Berdych isn’t in his best form, and thus Lopez is my pick to reach the semifinals.
With Ryan Harrison in poor form, he probably won’t be able to upset Grigor Dimitrov in round 1, Julien Benneteau or James Ward will also be underdogs against the Bulgarian, despite the fact he played poorly in his first grass court outing this year. Milos Raonic should defeat Thanasi Kokkinakis, and then continue to improve his form coming off injury woes this season, defeating either serve and volleyer Nicolas Mahut, or a rapidly improving Daniil Medvedev, who made the quarters in Rosmalen. Raonic is my pick for the semifinals with his powerful serve.
Dark Horse: Feliciano Lopez
I have Lopez reaching the semis and falling to Cilic, but a second straight final on grass would not be out of the question. Lopez just needs to improve a bit on return, and his performances will get even better on grass.
Semis Murray d. Cilic
Raonic d. Lopez
After Murray surprised everyone at Roland Garros and reached the semis, it seems foolish to pick against him on grass at the Queen’s club. I don’t count out Cilic and Raonic at all though, and both should be serious challengers at Wimbledon.
2016 ATP Grass Court Season Recap: Murray and Thiem Soar Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The last four ATP grass court tournaments after the French Open featured most of the top players looking to get practice before Wimbledon, and a host of players making strong runs. Many of these players will likely find themselves wishing their was more grass court tennis after Wimbledon, while others are already ready for hard court action.
Austrian superstar Dominic Thiem has moved into the top 8 after his fourth title of the season was won in Stuttgart at the Mercedes Cup. Thiem has won titles on all of the surfaces (hard court, clay, and grass) already this season and has clearly demonstrated his all-court prowess. Thiem beat Sam Groth, Mikhail Youzhny, and grass court legend Roger Federer, before toppling Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber in the final. Only against Groth did Thiem not drop a set, but he showed great fight to prevail in his matches. Kohlschreiber had defeated Thiem earlier this season in a clay final, so the Austrian got his revenge.
The German defeated Pierre-Hugues Herbert, Denis Kudla, Radek Stepanek, and Juan Martin Del Potro to reach the final. Del Potro showed great form as he continues his return from serious wrist injuries.
Marcus Daniell and Artem Sitak defeated Fabrice Martin and Oliver Marach in the doubles final.
ATP ‘s-Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch)
Nicolas Mahut won a second consecutive, and a third overall Den Bosch title as he defeated fellow big server Gilles Muller in the final. Mahut defeated Lukas Lacko, Paul-Henri Mathieu, Bernard Tomic, and Sam Querrey en route to the final, surviving in three sets against all but Lacko and Muller. The Frenchman clearly enjoys playing in Holland.
Muller contested his second career ATP final as he defeated Robin Haase, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, David Ferrer, and Ivo Karlovic to get that far. Both Ferrer and Tomic disappointing. At 33 he’s still looking for an elusive first ATP title.
Mate Pavic and Michael Venus defeated Dominic Inglot and Raven Klaasen in the doubles final as New Zealanders won both doubles titles on offer last week.
Florian Mayer stunningly captured his first title since 2011 as the oft-injured German will return to the top 100. Mayer defeated countryman Alexander Zverev in the final, the passionate Zverev simply didn’t have consistency to prevail in the third set. Mayer with his funky game has seen a resurgence in his tennis on grass this season. The 32 year old defeated Brian Baker, got a walkover against Kei Nishikori, and then defeated Andreas Seppi, and the in-form Dominic Thiem to reach the final.
The 19 year old Zverev dropped his second career ATP final after posting wins over Viktor Troicki, Benjamin Becker, Marcos Baghdatis, and most surprisingly, Roger Federer in three sets. Federer will now enter Wimbledon without a grass court title, though he entered two events. The Swiss legend hasn’t won an ATP title this season.
Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram defeated Alexander Peya and Lukasz Kubot in the doubles final.
Andy Murray was a set and a break down against Milos Raonic before he fought back to capture a fifth career London Queen’s title. Murray defeated Nicolas Mahut, Aljaz Bedene, Kyle Edmund, and Marin Cilic, as he dropped sets against Edmund and Cilic, along with Raonic. Murray has been in tremendous form as he moved to 33-6 on the season with two ATP titles. Murray hasn’t lost a match before the final since Monte Carlo.
Raonic defeated Nick Kyrgios, Jiri Vesely, Roberto Bautista Agut, and Bernard Tomic to reach his third ATP final of the season. The Canadian has established himself as a possible Wimbledon dark horse.
Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert defeated Chris Guccione and Andre Sa in the doubles final as they will perhaps be the Wimbledon men’s doubles favorites given their prowess on grass and great success this season as a team.
Maiden Title Mania in Halle and Queen’s as Klaasen/Ram and Mahut/Herbert win their first ATP level titles as a team Joe Craven, Tennis Atlantic
It was a week of maiden titles on the ATP doubles tour as both the Halle and Queen’s titles were won by teams who had never won an ATP level title before. Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram were able to capture the title in Halle, whilst Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert were victorious at Queen’s.
Mahut and Herbert sealed their first ATP level doubles title as a team by beating the team of Nenad Zimonjic and Marcin Matkowski in the final. Even though Mahut and Herbert were seeded lower then their opponents in the Final, the Frenchmen had the advantage going into the match as they played their Semi Final on Friday, whilst Zimonjic and Matkowski had to play theirs on the same day as the Final. Mahut and Herbert only faced three break points against their serve and were able to seal a 6-2 6-2 victory in just 47 minutes.
The pair didn’t drop a set all tournament, notching wins against the teams of Hewitt/Kokkinakis, Anderson/Chardy and Peya/Soares on their way to the Final. This win certainly meant a lot to the Frenchmen and after falling short in both the Australian Open Final earlier on in the year and the s’Hertogenbosch Final last week, Herbert described the win as “a dream”. The 24 year old who had never played at Queen’s Club before this year went on to say that “Everything we did was working. We know that if we play well, it will be difficult for our opponents, so we just focused on what we could do.”. After steady success this year the pair now sit 6th in the doubles race to the ATP World Tour Finals and for Mahut, who had grass court success in singles last week winning s’Hertogenbosch, it’s definitely a target, which the frenchman stating that “We hope to have a good run in the next few weeks, but for sure the goal is to come back to London later this year.”
Herbert will now play in the Wimbledon Singles Qualifying draw, whilst Mahut will have time to prepare for the main draw of both singles and doubles, after being awarded wildcard into the singles competition last week.
The fresh pairing of Klaasen and Ram were able to capture the Halle title on Sunday. Playing only their second ATP level event as a team, they were able to defeat the team of Florin Mergea and Rohan Bopanna 7-6 (5), 6-2 in the final. The road to the Final wasn’t wasn’t easy for the pairing, despite only dropping one set throughout the tournament they had to play a tiebreak in 5 out of the 8 regular sets they played, all of which they won. Klaasen and Ram defeated the teams of Tipsarevic/Tomic, Cuevas/Marrero in the 1st and 2nd rounds respectively, before saving two match points against Rojer/Tecau in the Semi Final.
After only teaming up recently, the team has already flourished, with a Final at the Challenger level in Manchester as well as a Quarter Final in S’Hertogenbosch. It was the first ATP level doubles title for Ram in over 3 years (St Petersburg 2012) who said that the team “started the match a little bit slowly”, however things got easier for the pair as the match went on with Ram going onto explain that “we played very clean [in the second set]. We communicated well and we were ready for our opportunities.” The experience of playing on Centre Court seemed to make Klaasen enjoy the occasion even more, with the South African stating that “Playing on the Centre Court was something special” and that he will “definitely be coming back”.
The pairing will now head straight to the ATP 250 event in Nottingham to continue their preparations for Wimbledon, a tournament which they’ll be confident about doing well in.
It was title #4 for home hero Andy Murray at London Queens as he pulled double duty and won a pair of matches on Sunday to earn the trophy. Murray won the final 6-3 6-4 over Kevin Anderson. Though Anderson was strong on serve, he had nothing to trouble Murray on the return, and Murray got the breaks he needed for a routine win. Previously in the day, the British #1 defeated Viktor Troicki 6-3 7-6. Troicki, who was in good form, was tied at 3-3 in the first set before rain came on Saturday, delaying the match, and he lost three straight games on the trot, before recovering to challenge Murray in a tight second set, the tiebreak ending 7-4.
Murray, who has had an excellent season and now has three titles, with trophies on both grass and clay, will enter Wimbledon as a co-favorite after defeating Rendy Lu, and Fernando Verdasco without dropping a set, and Gilles Muller in three sets, from a set down, before the semifinal against Troicki. Muller dispatched defending champion Grigor Dimitrov in round 2 without dropping a set.
Anderson survived going down a set and a break against Lleyton Hewitt, as he clawed back to win in three sets in round 1. Big Kev used that big win as a springboard to upset Stan Wawrinka in two tiebreaks, and then Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in straights, and Gilles Simon in three sets in the semis. When his game is clicking, he’s a great player, and this week the South African was firing his serve and his forehand on point.
Look for a report on the doubles tournament from Joe Craven coming soon!
Murray’s 4 titles at Queens pale in comparison to the domination Roger Federer has found in Halle, as he the Swiss legend claimed his 8th title at the German grass court venue with a 7-6 6-4 win over Andreas Seppi. Seppi couldn’t upset Federer like he did in Australia, though he put up a good effort, and he’s struggled to get over the title hump in a topsy turvy 2015.
The Swiss maestro was match points down against Philipp Kohlschreiber in round 1, but survived in a third set tiebreak, as Kohli’s serve failed him under pressure, and his groundstrokes soon followed with Federer’s stern responses on the ground. Federer would go on to defeat Ernests Gulbis, and funky Florian Mayer without dropping a set, and in the semis he survived Ivo Karlovic, while barely winning any points on Dr. Ivo’s serve, only taking the advantage when needed in a pair of tiebreaks. Karlovic doctored his way past Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals.
Seppi scored some big wins this week, as he defeated veterans Tommy Haas and Tommy Robredo, the first in straights, and the second in three sets, and then got retirement wins over Gael Monfils, and Kei Nishikori, who both pulled out mid-match as precautionary moves before Wimbledon. The Italian veteran truly has a diverse all-court game.
2015 ATP Draw Challenge Week 22 (London Queens and Halle) Staff, Tennis Atlantic
A pair of 500 level tournaments are up for grabs as the grass court season on the ATP Tour continues on with a strong field of top players at tournaments in both England and Germany.
2015 Aegon Championships Predictions
Steen Kirby’s picks
Round 2 matches: Murray vs. Verdasco, Muller vs. Dimitrov, Cilic vs. Troicki, Isner vs. Lopez, Goffin vs. Chardy, Gasquet vs. Raonic, Nadal vs.Garcia-Lopez, Anderson vs. Kyrgios Quarterfinals: Murray vs. Dimitrov, Cilic vs. Lopez, Chardy vs. Gasquet, Nadal vs. Kyrgios Semifinals: Murray vs. Cilic, Gasquet vs. Kyrgios Final: Murray vs. Kyrgios Champion: Murray
Niall Clarke’s picks
Round 2 matches: Murray vs. Verdasco, Muller vs. Dimitrov, Cilic vs. Troicki, Isner vs. Lopez, Goffin vs. Chardy, Gasquet vs. Raonic, Nadal vs. Garcia-Lopez, Anderson vs. Wawrinka Quarterfinals: Murray vs. Dimitrov, Cilic vs. Lopez, Chardy vs. Gasquet, Nadal vs. Kyrgios Semifinals: Murray vs. Cilic, Raonic vs. Nadal Final: Murray vs. Nadal Champion: Murray
Joe Craven’s picks
Round 2 matches: Murray vs. Verdasco, Muller vs. Dimitrov, Cilic vs. Troicki, Isner vs. Lopez, Simon vs. Kokkinakis, Bolelli vs. Raonic, Nadal vs. Garcia-Lopez, Anderson vs. Kyrgios Quarterfinals: Murray vs. Dimitrov, Cilic vs. Lopez, Kokkinakis vs. Raonic, Nadal vs. Kyrgios Semifinals: Murray vs. Lopez, Raonic vs. Kyrgios Final: Murray vs. Kyrgios Champion: Murray
Jeff McMillan’s picks
Round 2 matches: Murray vs. Verdasco, Muller vs. Dimitrov, Cilic vs. Troicki, Isner vs. Lopez, Simon vs. Chardy, Gasquet vs. Raonic, Nadal vs. Garcia-Lopez, Anderson vs. Wawrinka Quarterfinals: Murray vs. Dimitrov, Cilic vs. Isner, Chardy vs. Raonic, Nadal vs. Wawrinka Semifinals: Murray vs. Isner, Raonic vs. Nadal Final: Murray vs. Raonic Champion: Murray
Chris de Waard’s picks
Round 2 matches: Murray vs. Bautista Agut, Muller vs. Dimitrov, Cilic vs. Troicki, Isner vs. Lopez, Simon vs. Kokkinakis, Gasquet vs. Raonic, Nadal vs.Garcia-Lopez, Anderson vs. Kyrgios Quarterfinals: Murray vs. Dimitrov, Cilic vs. Lopez, Simon vs. Gasquet, Nadal vs. Kyrgios Semifinals: Murray vs. Cilic, Gasquet vs. Kyrgios Final: Murray vs. Kyrgios Champion: Murray
Andy Murray is the consensus favorite to take the title, while the Stan Wawrinka/Nick Kyrgios match will play a huge role in deciding the finalist from the bottom half.
Round 2 matches: Federer vs. Gulbis, Struff vs. Tomic, Berdych vs. Young, Nieminen vs. Karlovic, Robredo vs. Haas, Vesely vs. Monfils, Janowicz vs. Falla, Brown vs. Nishikori Quarterfinals: Federer vs. Tomic, Berdych vs. Karlovic, Haas vs. Monfils, Janowicz vs. Nishikori Semifinals: Federer vs. Berdych, Monfils vs. Nishikori Final: Federer vs. Nishikori Champion: Federer
Niall Clarke’s picks
Round 2 matches: Federer vs. Stakhovsky, Struff vs. Tomic, Berdych vs. Young, A. Zverev vs. vs. Karlovic, Robredo vs. Haas, Kukushkin vs. Monfils, Janowicz vs. Falla, Brown vs. Nishikori Quarterfinals: Federer vs. Tomic, Berdych vs. Karlovic, Haas vs. Monfils, Falla vs. Nishikori Semifinals: Federer vs. Berdych, Monfils vs. Nishikori Final: Federer vs. Nishikori Champion: Federer
Joe Craven’s picks
Round 2 matches: Federer vs. Stakhovsky, Struff vs. Tomic, Berdych vs. Young, A. Zverev vs. vs. Karlovic, Berankis vs. Seppi, Kukushkin vs. Rosol, Janowicz vs. Falla, Brown vs. Nishikori Quarterfinals: Federer vs. Tomic, Berdych vs. Karlovic, Berankis vs. Rosol, Janowicz vs. Nishikori Semifinals: Federer vs. Berdych, Rosol vs. Nishikori Final: Federer vs. Rosol Champion: Federer
Jeff McMillan’s picks
Round 2 matches: Federer vs. Stakhovsky, Struff vs. Tomic, Berdych vs. Young, A. Zverev vs. Karlovic, Berankis vs. Seppi, Vesely vs. Monfils, Janowicz vs. Lacko, Brown vs. Nishikori Quarterfinals: Federer vs. Tomic, Berdych vs. Karlovic, Seppi vs. Monfils, Janowicz vs. Nishikori Semifinals: Tomic vs. Berdych Monfils vs. Nishikori Final: Berdych vs. Monfils Champion: Berdych
Chris de Waard’s picks
Round 2 matches: Federer vs. Stakhovsky, F. Mayer vs. Tomic, Berdych vs. Young, A. Zverev vs. Karlovic, Berankis vs. Seppi, Vesely vs. Monfils, Janowicz vs. Lacko, Brown vs. Nishikori Quarterfinals: Federer vs. Tomic, Berdych vs. Karlovic, Seppi vs. Monfils, Janowicz vs. Nishikori Semifinals: Federer vs. Berdych, Seppi vs. Nishikori Final: Federer vs. Nishikori Champion: Federer
Federer-Nishikori is a near consensus pick for the final in Halle.
Grass court qualifying in two places, both 500 level events with two rounds of qualifying action, took place over the weekend, as some interesting names booked their place in the main draw.
ATP Halle Qualifying
In Halle, defending finalist Alejandro Falla is the strongest of the qualifiers. Last year Falla made a surprise run to that final and he’s also reached the 3rd round at Wimbledon previously in his career. The veteran lefty has a game built for grass and he comfortably defeated Janko Tipsarevic and Tim Puetz, without dropping a set, to qualify.
Another of the four qualifiers in total is lefty Jarkko Nieminen who beat Filip Krajinovic and Tatsuma Ito without dropping a set. Nieminen isn’t a grass court specialist by any stretch of the imagination but he’s fast on his feet and plays aggressively.
A pair of talented but underachieving players also qualified, Slovak Lukas Lacko, now 27,has an aggressive and powerful game built for grass and he beat two solid opponents, Peter Gojowczyk and Jurgen Melzer in three sets to qualify. Lacko faces Falla in round 1. 24 year old Ricardas Berankis upset Austin Krajicek in three sets, and Vasek Pospisil 6-3 6-3 to qualify. The undersized ball striker was a top junior but has been a bust as a pro.
Berankis will have a winnable round 1 match against Tommy Robredo in round 1, while Nieminen could also advance as he faces Alexander Zverev, a wild card, in round 1.
ATP London Queens Qualifying
Sixteen players participated in the qualifying competition at the Aegon Championships, which is held at the Queen’s Club in London.
Italian world number 56 Simone Bolelli was the top seed in the qualifying draw and experienced little trouble. After a straight sets win over Lucas Pouille in the first round, he faced France’s Edouard Roger-Vasselin. The Frenchman produced an impressive performance at the tournament last year when he reached the third round in the singles draw as well as the semi-final in the doubles. Bolelli however, experience no trouble as he dropped his service once on his way to winning 7-6 (4), 6-3.
In the main draw the Italian faces a tough encounter against Richard Gasquet. Bolelli has played Gasquet on five previous occasions and has lost all of them. Their most recent match was earlier this year at the Doha Open where Gasquet eased his way to a 6-3, 6-2, win. Gasquet could face pressure but I presume he’ll prevail.
Rendy Lu was pushed hard during his match against Denis Istomin. The second seed produced a straight sets win over the talented Luca Vanni in the first round whilst Istomin edged his way past Go Soeda. During the match there was only two breaks of serve, one each, as both sets went into tie-breaks with Lu winning 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5).
The reward for Lu is a first round showdown against top seed Andy Murray. He has beaten Murray once before which was in the first round of the 2008 Beijing Olympic games. Since then, Murray has won their two most recent encounters (both in 2013) without dropping a set. Murray should blast through the weaponless Lu to reach round 2.
The biggest surprise was the impressive run by 18-year-old wild card Jared Donaldson. The American knocked out third seed and fellow countryman Tim Smyczek in the first round to face Tobias Kamke. Kamke has experienced a disastrous 2015 so far with only one main draw win to his name. His sole win was against Vincent Millot in Montpellier last February. The misery continued for the German as Donaldson cruised to take the match 7-5, 6-3. Donaldson is currently at a ranking high of 152 in the world and won his first Challenger title in Maui at the start of the year.
Donaldson, the American number 12, will play America’s number 1 John Isner in the first round. Given Isner’s experience, he should win comfortably.
Finally hopes of a British winner in the qualification draw were ended after Paul-Henri Mathieu beat Brydan Klein during the battle of the wild card’s. The former world number 12 produced a three sets win over 4th seed Chung Hyeon in the first round. Mathieu, who hasn’t won a title since 2007, required just over an hour on the court to break the British world number 188 6-3,6-2.
Mathieu will play Stuttgart finalist Viktor Troicki in the first round. Troicki’s run to the final in Germany has clearly demonstrated that the Serbian is currently in impressive shape, especially with his serve. On the other hand, there will be questions about how tired he will be coming into Queen’s. The two players have been drawn to play each other on three previous occasions but none of the matches got completed with one of the retiring (Troicki twice and Mathieu once). Presuming Troicki doesn’t retire and keep up the trend, his superior form should win him the day.
2015 ATP London Queen’s and Halle Previews and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The 2015 ATP grass court season continues with the traditional stops in London at Queen’s Club, and Halle. Fan favorites highlight both draws as these two well run, and popular tournaments have both been upgraded to 500 level events this year, after previously featuring as stars of the 250 level. It’s a needed upgrade, adding more point to the grass court portion of the season, and the tennis this would should be an excellent appetizer for Wimbledon, which is just around the corner.
ATP London Queen’s
ATP London Queen’s Preview
ATP World Tour 500
June 15-June 21, 2015
Prize Money: €1,574,640
Top 4 seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Andy Murray (3)
2: Stan Wawrinka (4)
3: Milos Raonic (8)
4: Marin Cilic (9)
The seed cutoff is the top 15 and a host of top 30 players are in action at this marquee grass event that was deservedly just boosted this year to a 500 level from a 250.
A matchup that could have taken place last week in Den Bosch, but did not as both Spaniards crashed out early. This time it will take place as both will look to ride their gifted forehands to victory, the h2h is split 1-1 but they have never met on a fast surface, I’m going with Verdasco in three, but it could go either way as both have been more cold than hot this year overall.
(4)Marin Cilic vs. Adrian Mannarino
Stuttgart semifinalist Cilic, one of the top 10 players in the draw, will be a deserved favorite in this one, but don’t count Mannarino, who reached the quarters in Den Bosch, out. Cilic has had success here before with a title and a final on his record, but since coming back from injury he hasn’t been the same reliable player he was last year, a rising Mannarino could sink his ship, though I don’t see it happening personally.
(7)Gilles Simon vs. David Goffin
Simon reached the second week at the French and is 6-4 on grass over the past two years, a record that is good enough for a player of his ranking. Goffin is 5-1 in his last six matches, and going for his first grass court title in Den Bosch on Sunday, both are undersized baseline ball strikers, and fatigue could play a factor for Goffin. This is a hard match to pick, but I see D Goff winning it if he’s fit as his form on grass seems to be good.
The marquee matchup of the first round, this match would be center court and primetime worthy at any tournament, and surface, but especially on grass. The Roland Garros champion Wawrinka is making his return to the tour as he preps for Wimbledon, while Kyrgios, a Wimbledon quarterfinalist last year, is making his 2015 grass court debut as well.
Stan the man is the favorite and he’s 11-4 on grass since 2013, but Kyrgios seems underrated in this matchup that should feature a lot of power hitting. Presuming NK can get his serve to click, I actually have him pulling off an upset, as Wawrinka tends to be streaky, and struggle after posting huge results, a second slam win being his biggest of course. Distraction and the change of surface will be his challenge, and Kyrgios, who plays fearless tennis, is not the best opponent to start with.
Three time Queen’s champion Andy Murray has had an excellent season thus far (36-6 overall), and will look to ride the momentum of a 15-1 clay court season, that featured a run to the French Open semis, into the grass court season, a surface he feels right at home on, given he’s a British player. The British counterpuncher will face either Bautista Agut or Verdasco in round 2, after facing a qualifier round 1, if he faces Verdasco it’ll be a rematch of their 2013 Wimbledon 5 setter, but I doubt a rematch will be as competitive as Murray should cruise through to the quarterfinals without dropping a set.
Opposite Murray in the quarterfinals could be the defending champion Grigor Dimitrov. Grisha has struggled in 2015 and he has lost two straight matches, but he’s a good player on grass as the aptly nicknamed “baby Fed” is 11-3 since 2013 on the surface. The good record works in his favor, and he should snap that losing streak against Sam Querrey, the mediocre American, Gilles Muller could be a tough out in round 2 though. Muller comes off the semis in Den Bosch, and he should slide past the disastrous Mikhail Youzhny in round 1. Muller with his throwback serve and volley can be lethal on grass when on, but Dimitrov should feature a more versatile game that will give him an edge to reach the quarters. The h2h is 1-1 as Muller upset Dimitrov in Rotterdam this year, but Dimitrov has the grass court h2h win here in 2012.
Dimitrov beat Murray last year Wimbledon without dropping a set, but Murray won their meeting this year at the AO and is 5-2 in the overall h2h, given how their results have diverged this season, Murray is the superior player at the moment and it’s hard to see him suffering another defeat to the Bulgarian on grass at Queens. Look for Murray to star in the semifinals in front of the home crowd.
Cilic/Mannarino will face Viktor Troicki/Qualifier in round 2, Cilic just lost to Troicki in the Stuttgart semis but fatigue should play a factor as Troicki will face Rafael Nadal in that Stuttgart Sunday final, given Cilic’s previous triumph here if he can get out of round 1 he should reach the quarters with his game improving.
Feliciano Lopez, last years finalist, has a slightly better draw than he had in Stuttgart where big serving Sam Groth slipped past him. Flopez has not been playing great as of late but he’s very comfortable on grass with his slice serve and volley and he should be able to defeat Joao Sousa in round 1. A round 2 match with John Isner, presuming the American #1 beats a qualifier, should be worth watching, and poses a similar problem matchup wise as Groth did, as Isner will hold nearly all of his service games, that said Isner is actually not at his best on grass, and Lopez won their Wimbledon 2014 meeting in 4 sets, overall winning the last two meetings. Isner winning isn’t out of the question at all, but I have Lopez into the quarterfinals in my own bracket against Cilic.
Cilic has never lost to Lopez on a fast surface (3-0), and he has a grass court h2h win (Queens 2013 3 sets), given Cilic’s recent form has also been slightly better, I’m going with a Murray vs. Cilic semifinal in the top half.
Wawrinka/Kyrgios is almost certain to decide the quarterfinalist at the bottom of the draw, as either player should defeat Lleyton Hewitt/Kevin Anderson in round 2. Hewitt is historically a great grass court player but he looked atrocious in Den Bosch, and it’s clear his career is just about done, Anderson is 7-3 on grass since 2013, and I actually have him pulling off a minor upset and getting past Hewitt before falling to Kyrgios in round 2.
How Rafael Nadal, a current finalist in Stuttgart, does in Queens will also be a topic of interest. Nadal opens with streaky shotmaker Alexandr Dolgopolov in round 1, it is their first meeting since Dolgopolov shocked Nadal at Indian Wells in 2014, but overall Nadal is 5-1 in the h2h, and given the Ukrainian is in the midst of a poor three match losing streak, Nadal should advance. Rafa has improved on grass with every match in Stuttgart, and perhaps the surface switch has revitalized his season. He’s a previous winner of this tournament (2008), and he should also beat his countryman, either Pablo Andujar, or more likely Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in round 2 to reach the quarters.
From that we should get either Nadal vs. Wawrinka, or Nadal vs. Kyrgios, a pair of titantic matchups. Kyrgios shocked Rafa at Wimbledon last year in an upset I was one of the few writers to call, it’s a tough ask to expect him to do that again, but I have a feeling fatigue may play a factor on Rafa, and I have Kyrgios as my semifinalist. For what it’s worth, I’d also pick Wawrinka over Nadal on grass right now, if he reaches the quarters he should be motivated and his form should be good. Still Nadal should have a good record going into Wimbledon and feel comfortable with his game.
Milos Raonic returns to the ATP tour, and to grass court tennis against the perpetual British wild card James Ward, a gutsy 28 year old underdog. Ward hasn’t posted a positive tour level record on grass in a few years, but he always puts his heart into UK matches, and if Raonic is unfit after an injury he could find Ward to be a meddlesome matchup. Raonic’s record on grass has been disappointing given his aggressive, serve centered style of play (14-11 since 2011), but he was 5-2 last year and he’s looking to improve on the momentum of reaching the Wimbledon semifinals in 2014. I’d presume Raonic to win his first match. Richard Gasquet, presuming he beats a qualifier, should be a tougher opponent in round 2, Gasquet hasn’t posted a below .500 record on grass in nearly a decade and he’s 8-5 over the past two seasons, he also has a prior h2h win over Raonic (2013 US Open). Given Raonic is coming off an injury, I have Gasquet pulling off a slight upset after reaching the second week in Paris, and making the quarterfinals here.
Simon/Goffin will face either Thanasi Kokkinakis or Jeremy Chardy in round 2. Chardy with his big forehand is a proven danger on grass (9-4 since 2013), while Kokkinakis is a bit of an unknown commodity, but being Australian with his versatile power game he should also be able to play well on the green stuff. I have Chardy sneaking into the quarters over Kokkinakis and Goffin, given his recent h2h win at the French over Goffin, but this is a hard section to predict overall, and all four players have a nearly even shot at the quarterfinals.
Look for Gasquet or Raonic to reach the semis with a win in the quarters, it’s not out of the question for any of the four others to make the semis, but I’d give them the best chance as experienced talents.
This tournament could be quite memorable for Kyrgios, if he is healthy, and can defeat Wawrinka, Nadal and Gasquet/Raonic/Some other player to reach the final. I’m predicting it in my own bracket, a gusty move to pick a non-seed in such a strong field, but his game is really well suited for grass, and he has previous wins on the surface over both Nadal, and Gasquet, as he famously saved NINE match points against Gasquet at Wimbledon. A year wiser, presuming the confident Australian is fit, it’s his time to shine on grass, as the young gun should not be a slept on this year. Winning the title is a bit of a leap, but I’m picking him to reach his second ATP final after reaching his first in Estoril where he lost to Gasquet on clay.
Semis: Murray d. Cilic Kyrgios d. Gasquet
It’s hard for me to see anyone stopping Murray this year, especially not Cilic who Murray has beaten three times previously on grass, including in the 2013 Queen’s club final. AM appears capable of losing only to Djokovic at the moment, and Djokovic isn’t in the field here.
I tend to favor the winner of Kyrgios/Wawrinka to decide the finalist from the bottom half, and we well could see two non-seeds in a tournament with a high caliber field in the semifinals. Gasquet has twice beaten Kyrgios on clay rather easily, including this year in Estoril, but Kyrgios was something else in their Wimbledon meeting that he saved all those match points in and eventually won 10-8 in the 5th. I look for the Aussie to conjure up that magic and win a slightly less important meeting this time to reach the final.
Final: Murray d. Kyrgios
Murray is 3-0 in matches and 8-0 in sets against the young Australian, as this h2h has gotten lopsided quickly due to the fact the defensively sound and fleet footed Murray is a bad matchup for the often rashly aggressive Kyrgios. I’m sure NK will put up a fight if he make it this far, but I don’t see anyone capable of stopping Magic Murray from his 4th title at London Queens.
Gerry Weber Open
ATP World Tour 500
June 15-June 21, 2015
Prize Money: €1,574,640
Top 4 seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Roger Federer (2)
2: Kei Nishikori (5)
3: Tomas Berdych (6)
4: Gael Monfils (16)
Three top 10 players are in Halle, and five top 20 players overall, the seed cutoff is top 30, and though no quite as strong as Queens, Halle is also a strong event that was just boosted to a 500 from the 250 it was previously.
First round matchups to watch:
(1)Roger Federer vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber
Federer, a Halle standout (7 titles, including the past 2 trophies) who has adopted the tournament as much as any local, can’t be happy with having to face a solid grass court player like Kohlschreiber in round 1. Four previous times he has vanquished the German on the surface, three of those came in Halle, including the 2008 final, and just once as Kohli taken a set (Wimbledon 09). That said, it gets harder every year for Federer to amp himself up for opening round matches, and Kohlschreiber on home soil should feel comfortable, given like Federer, he has found success in Halle. We’ll see if Peppo can give the grass maestro any trouble in round 1 as he comes off of a quarterfinal in Stuttgart.
(7)Bernard Tomic vs. Steve Johnson
Tomic comes off the quarterfinals in Stuttgart, and he’ll be a favorite against the 25 year old American Steve Johnson, that said Johnson, who is building his ATP experience on grass seems to be no slouch on the surface, with a 13-8 record on grass since 2013. Johnson has shown signs of improvement this year, as has Bernie, who appears more focused than he has been in previous years, and this should be a high quality contest. I have Tomic advancing in my bracket.
(8)Ivo Karlovic vs. Santiago Giraldo
An interesting form test going into Wimbledon for the aging Karlovic, now 36, his serve still is a huge weapon, but the rest of his game appears to be in a bit of a free fall, as he won just 1 match in Den Bosch and is just 2-6 in his last 8 matches. Giraldo has struggled this year with a below .500 record, is an average grass court player at best, but if he can win this, it will be a sign that the party is going to be over soon for Karlovic. I still think Ivo wins but it could get messy.
Monfils has a h2h win (on clay) against Rosol, and he comes off the semis in Stuttgart, thus he should win this, but Rosol with his ball bashing could make things interesting if his game clicks. Lukas did not look good in Stuttgart, losing round 1, but you never know with both of these players, as they are quite streaky.
Federer/Kohlschreiber will face Ernests Gulbis or Sergiy Stakhovsky in round 2. Gulbis has a poor record on grass in his career and has been horrendous this season, while Stakhovsky is good on grass with his serve and volley game, but is nursing a back injury. It’s a tough pick but I tip Gulbis to oust his likely still injured opponent before getting blitzed by Federer, who should reach the quarters without dropping a set, or at least that’s what his fans would hope for. A healthy Stakhovsky serve and volleyed his way to a shocking upset of Federer at Wimbledon, but it’s quite likely Federer will get his revenge if that matchup takes place.
Tomic/Johnson will be the favorite to be opposite Federer in the quarterfinals, neither JL Struff or Florian Mayer, both Germans, are playing well at the moment as Struff was sick and Mayer has struggled in his return from injury. One of them will break a four match losing streak,and Mayer was previously decent on grass, I have Struff sneaking through only to lose to Tomic again, like he did in Stuttgart though.
Federer-Tomic has the potential to be a great match, and two, if not all three of Federer’s opponents early in Halle will be tough outs, that said Federer is 4-0 against the Australian and he has a grass court h2h win, Bernie could take a set, but Federer is comfortable at Halle, and barring a severe dip in form he should be a safe pick for the semis. Tomic can’t be happy with his draws in his first two grass court tournaments of 2015, as he lost to Nadal in the Stuttgart quarters, and he is likely to be stopped in the quarters yet again.
Tomas Berdych is a former Halle champion and given the Czech is 35-10 this year, with hardly only 1 loss to player outside the top 10 (Tsonga at the French Open), he should roll through to the quarterfinals. It’s also worth nothing Berdych is 10-4 since 2013 on grass, and he should pad that record with routine wins over non grass courters Victor Estrella and Borna Coric/Donald Young in round 2. Coric tanked hard in Stuttgart where he lost R1, and he has hardly any grass court experience, while Young is in poor form and may not be healthy at the moment (also 5-11 since 2013 on grass), so the winner of that is anyone’s guess.
The section below Berdych is quite weak, Karlovic/Giraldo and Alexander Zverev or a qualifier are the players it consists of. The teenager Zverev, who is just 18, was feisty in Stuttgart as he won a match, his first ever as a professional on grass, and took a set off of eventual finalist Viktor Troicki. That said the qualifier could be dangerous for a youngster who isn’t used to coming to net and plays a clay court oriented top spin defensive style. If Karlovic doesn’t fall apart, he should reach the quarters, but this is a difficult section to predict, and the qualifier will also have his chances.
Berdych is simply stronger than any possible opponent in the quarters and though he has a negative h2h against Karlovic (3-4 all hard court meetings), given the difference in form as of late, he should be on a collision course with Federer in the semifinals.
Kei Nishikori is slated to face Dominic Thiem, four years his junior, in the opening round. Thiem has not proven himself to be capable on grass yet as he lost badly to Mischa Zverev in Stuttgart, a player well below his ranking. Nishikori 32-8 in 2015, and coming off the RG quarters, should improve on his 7-4 grass record since 2013 and defeat Thiem and the winner of Dustin Brown/Andreas Haider-Maurer. Brown is a threat with his serve and volley game on this surface, though he lost round 1 as a qualifier in Stuttgart and Brown-Nishikori should be a great match, but Kei should be able to pass Brown enough, especially if the German slips up on serve to win, and reach the quarterfinals.
Dirtballer Pablo Cuevas is the #6 seed at this tournament, but he’s an underdog in round 1 against Jerzy Janowicz. The mercurial Pole beat Brown in Stuttgart but then choked against Kohlschreiber, and he’s had a mediocre and mentally weak 2015 season. Given Cuevas has played just one grass court match since 2010, JJ should win that match, and presumably beat a qualifier in the next round (qualifier vs. qualifier is that matchup). Perhaps the momentum of that weak early draw will inspire him in the quarterfinals.
With a Masters final and a Wimbledon semifinal on his resume, Janowicz has already proven he has the talent, especially on a fast surface where his heavy hitting power game can shine, but he’s struggled to put all the pieces together, thus Nishikori is the favorite to reach the semifinal in their first h2h meeting. It should be a fun match, but Nishikori has a mental edge and is much better in pressure moments than the Pole.
Monfils/Rosol is likely to decide the quarterfinalist in that section, as I wouldn’t expect much out of Jiri Vesely/Mikhail Kukushkin, the other options who meet round 1. The 21 year old Czech Vesely has limited experience on grass, but his game suits it reasonably well, while Kukushkin is poor on the surface. As long as Monfils is healthy and motivated, his talented shotmaking should place him into the semifinals. He looked awful in a 2014 Wimbledon match against Vesely, but that appeared to be more like a one off Clownfils performance than a sign of a matchup problem.
33 year old #5 seed Tommy Robredo could well go out to a qualifier in round 1, he’s 5-1 on grass since 2013, but has not played much on it, even with such a long career. The topspinning Spaniard has struggled to stay healthy this year, so we’ll see how this tournament goes for him, either way look for the quarterfinalist to be either Andreas Seppi or Tommy Haas, a match I thought about putting on my matches to watch, but decided against it after how poor Seppi played in his round 2 match in Stuttgart. Haas came back after a year off the tour due to injury and won a round (beating Kukushkin) before losing to Tomic, and their grass court h2h is split 1-1 (both meetings came in Halle) that said Haas has won the previous four meetings, and given this is grass, presuming he’s healthy I’d expect him to make it five straight. You’d expect Haas to improve with each match, and he has good history in Halle as the former Wimbledon semifinalist has took the title twice here. Haas is 4-1 against Robred and has a grass court h2h win as well, so expect him to survive two early matches against veterans who have a lot of variety with their strokes, as does Haas.
Monfils vs. Haas has great potential, the h2h is an even 2-2, and Haas won their 2013 Halle match, that said with Haas coming off of a long injury layoff, Monfils should be sharper and win by perhaps a very small margin to reach the semis.
It’s likely expecting too much from Haas this soon after his comeback to say he’ll reach the semis, but he has two previous titles here, and he’s a crafty veteran who tends to be able to find ways to win. His draw isn’t bad as he should at least make the semis, and Monfils is a player he’s beaten previously, so though unlikely don’t count the veteran with the one-handed backhand out of things.
Semis: Federer d. Berdych Nishikori d. Monfils
Berdych has been entirely impotent in their two matches this season, losing by a combined game score of 24-10, given his ranking you can’t count him out, but if Federer makes it this far he should reach the final.
Nishikori beat Monfils last year in three sets at this venue, and it has some great potential in terms of an exciting matchup, I could see Gael winning this but I feel Kei will be too strong for him and thus I have a Federer vs. Nishikori #1 vs #2 seed final picked out.
Final: Federer d. Nishikori
Federer beat Nishikori in Halle last year and he has won their last two meetings, after dropping the two before that (3-2 overall h2h), it’s a tough matchup to predict, but Federer loves Halle and seems to just about own the tournament, thus I have to pick him to win it, without reason not to do so.