Week #25: What to watch for on ATP World Tour as delivered to Tennis Channel by ATP's PR & Marketing Department.
10 THINGS TO WATCH AT QUEEN’S CLUB
1) Best Event: Players selected the Aegon Championships as the ATP World Tour 500 Tournament of the Year in 2015 and 2016. The event received ATP World Tour 250 honors in 2013 and 2014.
2) Very Strong Field: Five of the Top 10 players in the Emirates ATP Rankings are in this week’s field: World No. 1 and five-time champion Andy Murray, Roland Garros runner-up Stan Wawrinka, 2016 finalist Milos Raonic, 2012 champion Marin Cilic and 2011 finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
3) Past Champs: Murray is the only five-time champion in event history (est. 1890). All past champs since 2009 are in the 2017 field, including Cilic, Sam Querrey (2010) and Grigor Dimitrov (2014).
4) Murray Returns: Murray is making his 12th tournament appearance, but first as World No. 1. He has topped the Emirates ATP Rankings for 33 weeks. Murray is 30-5 at the Aegon Championships with titles in each of the last four odd years (2009, 2011, 2013, 2015). Murray is on a 14-match win streak on grass and boasts a 125-26 record in Great Britain (.828). He is 526-156 elsewhere (.771).
5) Raonic in London: The No. 3 seed Raonic returns to London, where last year he lost to Murray in finals at the Aegon Championships and Wimbledon, and in the semi-finals of the Nitto ATP Finals. Raonic has played at 27 tournaments since his last title at Brisbane in January 2016 (d. Federer).
6) Wawrinka Seeks Grass Glory: None of Wawrinka’s 16 ATP World Tour titles, and only one of his 28 finals, have come on grass. The World No. 3 and Swiss No. 1 is making his fifth appearance at the Aegon Championships, where he enjoyed a run to the semi-finals in 2014 (l. to Dimitrov).
7) Dimitrov Back Again: The No. 6 seed Dimitrov makes his ninth straight trip to Queen’s Club. He started the 2017 season 16-1 with his first titles since the 2014 Aegon Championships at Brisbane and Sofia. But the Bulgarian is 5-9 over the last four months with no semi-final appearances.
8) #NextGenATP Stars: Wimbledon junior champion Denis Shapovalov, fellow teen qualifier Stefan Kozlov, and 21-year-olds Daniil Medvedev and Thanasi Kokkinakis are in the draw. Kokkinakis earned his first singles win in 21 months last week at ’s-Hertogenbosch before falling to Medvedev.
9) Wild Cards: Five Brits are in the field, including wild cards Cameron Norrie and James Ward. Norrie ended his junior season at Texas Christian University as the top-ranked player in college tennis. He makes his ATP World Tour debut against Querrey. Ward, a semi-finalist here in 2011, meets Julien Benneteau. Kokkinakis received the other wild card and opens against Raonic.
10) Doubles Depth: Seven of the 16 teams in the doubles draw have won a Grand Slam title, including two-time defending champions Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut. The Frenchmen are seeded second behind Australian Open champions Henri Kontinen and John Peers. Five-time champions Bob and Mike Bryan have played 21 events since their last title at Rome in May 2016.
10 THINGS TO WATCH IN HALLE
1) Silver Anniversary: This is the 25th edition of the Gerry Weber Open and the 2017 field features seven of the Top 20 players in the Emirates ATP Rankings. The top four seeds are eight-time champion Roger Federer, Dominic Thiem, Kei Nishikori and 2016 finalist Alexander Zverev.
2) Former Champions: Federer has won the Halle title more than any other tournament during his storied career. He is joined in the field by three other past champions -- all of whom are German: Tommy Haas (2009, 2012), Philipp Kohlschreiber (2011) and Florian Mayer (2016).
3) King of Grass: Federer, making his 15th Halle appearance, is the most successful grass-court player in the Open Era with 15 titles and a 152-24 record (.864). Last week at Stuttgart, he blew a match point against Haas and suffered his first opening-match loss on grass since 2002 Wimbledon. Federer is 54-6 at Halle and has never lost before the quarter-finals. He is one win shy of 1,100 and 37 aces shy of 10,000 (not including aces at Davis Cup, 2000 Olympics and 2004 Olympics). Ivo Karlovic and Goran Ivanisevic are the only men to eclipse 10,000 aces since 1991.
4) German Title Hopes: Alexander and Mischa Zverev, who each reached semi-finals last week, are among eight Germans in Halle. Haas is one of six Germans to win the Halle title, but the only one to do so twice, beating Novak Djokovic and Federer in the 2009 and 2012 finals respectively.
5) Haas Defying Age: Last week at Stuttgart, the 39-year-old Haas became the oldest quarter-finalist on tour since Jimmy Connors, 42, at 1995 Halle. As the World No. 302, he became the lowest ranked player to defeat Federer since countryman Bjorn Phau at 1999 Washington (No. 407). Haas also joined Djokovic and Lleyton Hewitt as the only players with two grass-court wins over Federer.
6) Mayer Reigning Champion: Last year, a 192nd-ranked Mayer edged A. Zverev in the second allGerman final in Gerry Weber Open history (Kohlschreiber d. Philipp Petzschner in 2011). Mayer returns this week as the World No. 134 after dropping the 500 points he earned at 2016 Halle.
7) Pouille vs Struff: No. 6 seed Lucas Pouille, one of five Frenchmen in the draw, meets Jan-Lennard Struff in the first round after saving a match point against him en route to the Stuttgart title. Henri Leconte is the only Halle champion from France, winning the inaugural title in 1993.
8) #NextGenATP Players: A. Zverev, Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev are #NextGenATP players competing at Halle. Zverev has won titles this season at Montpellier, Munich and Rome.
9) Wild Cards: Haas, Rublev and Dustin Brown are the wild cards. Brown reached the Halle quarterfinals in 2014 and Rublev, who is ranked a career-high No. 106, is making his main draw debut.
10) Doubles Draw: Two-time defending champions Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram are the No. 2 seeds behind Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo. Last week at ’s-Hertogenbosch, Kubot and Melo defeated Klaasen and Ram for their third title of 2017. The Zverevs will play doubles together.
For more about ATP World Tour, go to www.atpworldtour.com
By Greg Sharko, Director, Media Information, PR & Marketing, ATP World Tour