2014/10/21

A Look at the History of Queen’s Club with CEO Andrew Stewart

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By Wendy M. Grossman

 

(June 16, 2014) LONDON – In one week every November at Queen’s Club, says Andrew Stewart, the club’s CEO, you can find three world champions in action side by side within 100 yards or so of each other. He doesn’t mean three top tennis players. He means the world champions of three different racquet sports: members of the ATP’s top eight, who like to practice here on the indoor courts during the world championships, held across town; the top ten rackets players participating in the Rackets Invitational; and finally the top real tennis players competing in the British Open.

 

“I don’t think there’s anywhere else in the world you can see that.”

 

Stewart describes rackets with enthusiasm, quoting the famed 20th century commentator Dan Maskell, who began his career as a ballboy-turned-tennis pro at Queen’s, as saying that rackets was the greatest spectator sport he’d ever seen. During the pro tennis tournament, however, you can’t peep in to find out: the rackets courts are where they put the players’ lounge. Stewart himself no longer plays tennis; his sport is cricket.

 

Currently properly known as the Aegon Championships, the Queen’s Club tournament, held two weeks before Wimbledon, is one of the oldest on the men’s calendar. The first edition was played in 1884; it moved to Queen’s in 1890 and has been held there ever since, though not continuously. There were breaks for both world wars, and another from 1973 to 1976. At that point, Frank Lowe, a club member who worked in advertising, found the tournament commercial sponsors, and the tournament has flourished ever since. The 1970s were also when the tournament moved from its original timing two weeks after Wimbledon to its present place in the calendar.

 

From 1890 to 1973 the tournament included a women’s singles draw; men’s and women’s doubles and mixed doubles were added in the early 1900s. After 1973, however, the women formed their own tour and haven’t been back. Like almost all the male winners, the female winners were an elite lot who typically made – or won – Wimbledon finals, players like Ann Jones, Christine Truman, and Maria Bueno.

 

Stewart believes it’s unlikely the tournament could follow the current trend of becoming a combined event: “The difficulty here is, you’ve got to remember that the members are paying a subscription to play on their courts – and they don’t get on them.” They are indeed: a list of subscription fees posted on the wall gives the present rate for non-shareholding members as a little over £3,000 a year – something over $5,000. Despite the size of that fee, Stewart objects to the general characterization of the club as being full of “toffs” – a recent article in the Times recently claimed that there were no pictures of “the bad boy from the back streets of Australia” in the clubhouse. Wrong on two counts: first, because there are plenty of such pictures; second, because Hewitt’s name appears on the list of honorary members to be found hanging on an upstairs wall. The club reportedly despised McEnroe back in the 1970s – but these days the club embraces all its distinguished former champions.

 

“They love their sport,” Stewart says.

 

Stewart says the members love the tournament and appreciate its benefits to the club; nonetheless, as he describes it the disruption is considerable. All the stands and decorations take two months to build every year and another month to take down. So most of the club’s ten grass courts – plus the indoor courts, since those are used for players’ lounges as noted above – are unavailable to members for the months of May and June. The groundsman, Stewart Kimpton, as per his instructions, gets four grass courts ready for the members’ use a couple of weeks before the tournament; from the day after the tournament the members can play on the grass courts until October. Overall, the club has ten indoor courts, a couple of which were built in the 1880s and were used in the 1908 Olympics.

 

“We were delighted it went to Wimbledon,” he says of the 2012 Olympics.

 

The club originally opened its doors in 1886 as only the world’s second multi-sport complex. In those early days, it hosted rugby, football, and many other sports; it even had a skating rink. At the time, the biggest sporting events of the year were the competitions between Oxford and Cambridge; the club’s colors still reflect that: blue for Oxford and Cambridge; red, reflecting the military background of many members in the early 20th century; and white, for the Corinthians football club that used to play there and had a particular ethos of playing hard – but fairly. So Queen’s Club was the host for all those Oxford vs Cambridge competitions – rugby, athletics (the British term for track and field)…and tennis, among other racquet sports. These days, the club aims to have courts matching every surface the majors are played on: it has 33 in all – grass, French clay, indoor, and hard courts.

 

The year Stewart joined was interesting timing: the year before, the Club had changed ownership. The background: the 1950s were a tough time for Queen’s Club. The difficulties had their roots in the early 20th century, when nationalism began to enter sports. Britain began building national stadia to house sports like football, cricket, and rugby, and the headquarters of those sports migrated there, with interested members following them. Queen’s Club became a specialist in racquet sports: tennis, rackets, real tennis, and squash. Second, a number of members died in military service during the two world wars. The upshot was a struggle to keep the club going – which was eventually solved by selling it to the Lawn Tennis Association in 1951 for £50,000. By 2005, when the LTA decided to move its headquarters and put the club up for sale, the asking price had escalated to £45 million. Alarmed at the thought that it might go to developers – this is 11 acres of prime real estate in central London! – the members pushed for the right to buy it back. The purchase price was eventually agreed at £35 million, all but £6 million of it raised from the members themselves. The £6 million has been repaid, and the club expects to have paid off its debenture holders by 2022.

 

Stewart explains all this in a deep radio voice wearing an air of authority that might make you think he’s been part of the club forever. In fact, he only joined in 2008 but, he explains, “I’m ex-Army. I was in the military. I was in a regiment my father was in and my grandfather was in, and I believe that history is essential to the ethos of anything that’s any good. I think the joy about Queen’s is that it is steeped in history.” He looks forward to adding to it: “If Murray wins next year and become the sixth four-time winner [in the Open Era], could he become the [first five-time winner]?

 

The Club’s history is hung all over its walls, from the 1980s advertising poster caricatures of players such as John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, and Stefan Edberg, to the carefully compiled framed photographs and explanatory placards documenting the history of rackets, real tennis, and court tennis.

 

Which brings us to the most obvious piece of club history, the trophy, a giant silver cup, probably the largest trophy anywhere on the tour. It memorializes many iconic moments: the moment when John McEnroe arrived as a player, or the shock emergence of 17-year-old Boris Becker. The person who brings it in to show, gleaming and newly polished, puts on white gloves before touching it and lifts it gingerly by both handles. The engraved names of past champions circle the cup in columns, beginning in 1890. There are only three spaces left. Stewart has a plan for this as so much else: the club will add a black base to house the post-2016 champions. Meantime, he tells me a clever bit of coincidence: Andy Murray’s name, in 2013, just happens to line up perfectly next to the Irish player Joshua Pim, the champion in 1893. This pleases Stewart because: in 2013, Murray also won Queen’s and Wimbledon in the same year.

 

Chris Northey: The voice of the club

The personality of a tournament is all about the details. At Queen’s, one such detail is the former stage, screen, and TV actor Chris Northey, the club’s announcer. A glance at his IMDB entry shows a career spanning some 30 years and including small parts in TV productions of Reilly: Ace of Spades and An Ungentlemanly Act, and the movie Morons from Outer Space.

 

From a small room with an arched window at the top of the club, Northey has introduced every match and every player. His acting experience – he was trained at London’s prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts – means he knows how to use and care for his voice so he doesn’t get laryngitis. As the game has expanded internationally, he’s found some of the less English names a struggle.

 

Northey has always loved tennis and still plays “as much as my wife will let me”. He landed the announcer’s job after a recommendation followed by an audition. Long a part-time coach, some years back, the club offered him a second job, organizing the members’ play in club sessions at weekends. He accepted, happily: “My job was my hobby.”

 

 

 

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Keeping the Queen’s Club Grass Courts Perfect – Meet Graham Kimpton

 

By Wendy M. Grossman

 

(June 16, 2014) BIRMINGHAM – Graham Kimpton is looking somewhat harassed. Not surprising; it’s quarter-finals day at Queen’s and he’s the grounds manager. The buzz around the world may all be about Wimbledon but in England it’s widely held that the Queen’s Club grass courts are the best in the world.

 

“We’ve got lots of traditional practices that we use,” he says, when asked how he takes care of the club’s ten grass courts. (In all, it has 33 that include representatives of every major surface the game is played on.)

 

“Traditional” means more to Kimpton than just avoiding chemicals as much as possible: his father came to manage the club’s grounds in 1966, and Kimpton joined him in 1984. They worked here together until about five years ago. “So we’re very – I wouldn’t say old-fashioned but traditional – in the approach that we take. It’s attention to detail. That’s what we do.” He is grateful, he says, to the backing and support he gets from the club.

 

These details include everything from the mix of grass cultivars, the make-up of the soil, and the design of fertilizer programs to the type of mower they use. An example of the level of detail: the mower’s width is chosen so that the stripes you get from mowing first in one direction and then in the other fit perfectly into the lines that mark out the court.

 

“The biggest difference between ourselves and All-England is the grass seed mixture.”

 

The All-England Club’s decision a few years ago to switch to 100 percent rye grass made headlines. Queen’s is still using the same mix it’s used for many years. It’s close to what Wimbledon used in 1991, when I interviewed the head groundsman there: 50 percent rye; 45 percent distributed between two kinds of fescue, and 5 percent bent grass.

 

“It’s a real sort of traditional tennis mix,” Kimpton says.

 

Each type of grass brings something different to the mix. Rye is hard-wearing, an obviously important quality. But, Kimpton says, it’s tufted, meaning it grows straight up, making it hard to get the density that Kimpton believes plays best. The fescues, which are curly and grow laterally as well as vertically, fill in the gaps and also block weed grass from growing – but fescues by themselves are too fine.

 

One reason for the difference is that at the end of the Championships, when play has finished on Centre Court, “They plane the whole lot off and they start again.” By contrast, he says, at the end of the Queen’s Club tournament after a few weeks rest and some rain the courts are ready to go again. “So I don’t want to take all of the good stuff out just to get rid of a little bit of bad stuff.”

 

While the wear pattern on the courts has certainly changed – look at a 20th century grass-court match sometime and you’ll see the same sand along the baseline but a second worn area up the T to a big bare patch in front of the net – he says the mix has held up well to the many changes in the game. Connors, in his day, used to try to deliberately drop the ball onto the bare spot near the net because the bounce was so unpredictable.

 

The biggest challenge for Kimpton is that trying to balance the 51-weeks-a-year needs of the club’s 2,000 tennis-playing members against the demands of running a world-class tournament on the remaining week. “To get that week as good as you want does cut into the members’ time.”

 

Watching his perfect courts wear away doesn’t bother him. “People say, doesn’t that break your heart? “After the first day of practice and you see all it’s done.” He shrugs. “It keeps me in my job.”

 

People may debate climate change, but Kimpton notes that England’s winters have gotten noticeably milder. “We don’t have those long, cold, frosty periods.” He wishes they’d come back: those low temperatures help kill bugs.

 

A tidbit for fans to debate: the players constantly – even this week – say that the grass courts have been deliberately slowed over the years in response to those many 1990s grass-court finals between big servers like Pete Sampras and Goran Ivanisevic that featured no rallies longer than five shots. Kimpton says not.

 

“We haven’t done anything. We relaid Centre Court in 1993 and we just put some heavier clay soil on there. But Sampras and all those guys, they were around for a lot longer after that. So we haven’t really done anything.”

 

Instead, Kimpton says, what’s changed is the ball. “I spoke to Todd Woodbridge, and he said that every year he won Wimbledon he kept the ball. If you look at the first time he won it to the last time he won it the last ball is a lot bigger, a lot fluffier than the first ball. They move slower.” In the ITF’s annual speed tests, there’s little difference.

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Grigor Dimitrov Saves Match Point to Claim Queen’s Club Crown

(June 15, 2014) Grigor Dimitrov rallied from match point down to beat Feliciano Lopez to 6-7 (8), 7-6 (1), 7-6 (6) to claim the Queen’s Club crown in London on Sunday.
The Bulgarian’s win over the Spaniard makes him the first player in 2014 to win titles on three different surfaces – London on grass, Acapulco on hardcourt and Bucharest on clay.
“Of course, I’m really happy with the win,” said the fourth seed Dimitrov. “Obviously I knew what I had to do today out on the court, and Feli is one of those competitors that when it comes to fast surfaces, he’s always very tricky to play.
“Down match point in the second set wasn’t the coolest thing, but, you know, I just fought hard. I just left everything out on the court – that was my main goal. I achieved what I was looking for.”

“I think when you face players like Grigor, you know that even playing the way I played today there is a chance to lose because he’s a great player,” said Lopez. “He never gives up, as he showed today.
“It’s tough to lose when you play such a great match, but you have to take it the other way, no? Overall it was a great week for me. It has been a great preparation for Wimbledon, and hopefully in Eastbourne next week I can do well again.”
Since hiring coach Roger Rasheed in the Fall of 2013, Dimitrov has also won titles in Stockholm, Acapulco and Bucharest.

Dimitrov’s girlfriend, French Open champion Maria Sharapova, was among the crowd during the final.

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Approach Shots: Getting to Know Tennis Umpire Ali Nili

By Wendy M. Grossman

(June 14, 2014) LONDON – “To be close to professional tennis,” says Ali Nili, in explaining his motivation for working as a tennis umpire. Nili is an Iran-born US citizen and one of the ATP’s cadre of ten full-time umpires. This makes him as much of an elite member of his profession as the players whose matches he oversees: only 25 umpires in the world have, like him, earned the profession’s highest qualification, a gold badge. Ten of them work full-time for the ATP, traveling the tour alongside the players.

Umpiring wasn’t what he set out to do. “I wanted to play. I wasn’t good enough.” He sounds comfortable with that.

“It’s just a fun job in general, especially if you’re a tennis fan.” Nili is speaking shortly after umpiring the semifinal between Stanislas Wawrinka and Grigor Dimitrov. It was a match not without incident: down a set and 3-5, Wawrinka crashed his racquet repeatedly on the court and then, apparently dissatisfied with the demolition job, deliberately folded it in half. Nili seems unbothered by that or any suggestion that angry players might be at all scary. “Just because of the fact that I know them, I work with them every week.”

On the other hand… “I would rather deal with any professional player than any junior’s parents. They want their kid to win at any cost, and anybody in their way is an enemy. I realized that early in my career and tried to stay away from it.”

From the sounds of it, umpiring is a more social job than playing: umpires at the top level hardly ever work with anyone they don’t know, and accordingly they have each other as company.

But players do have one advantage. In a long match they can leave the court for bathroom breaks or request medical treatment. Umpires, on the other hand, stay in place throughout, climbing down only when the match ends or, on clay, if someone wants a mark inspected. It’s not surprising, therefore, when Nili says that ,”My only pre-match routine is go to the bathroom.” When he’s working at Wimbledon or one of the other Grand Slams, where the men play five-set matches, he doesn’t drink anything until the end of his last five-set match.

“It’s easier to stay sharp thirsty than when you have to go to the bathroom out there.”

Nili earned his first international certificate in 1998. Like players, umpires start out in the weeds of the game – small, local events or junior matches. As they learn, gain experience, and improve, they move up the ranks through a series of certificates: white, bronze, silver, and, finally, gold. A tournament like Queen’s, with a singles main draw of 56 and a doubles draw of 16, uses six umpires, four from the ATP’s group, the rest contractors.

Nili jokes about preferring women’s matches at the major because they’re only best-of-three sets, but you have to suspect that every umpire would have liked to have been in the chair for the historic 2010 Wimbledon first-round match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut, which went to 70-68 in the fifth and took more than 11 hours over three days to complete.

“Even he” – meaning the umpire in that match, Mohamed Lahyani – “would tell you that it goes a lot faster than the action time.” In general, he says, “The better the match is, the easier it is to keep your level of concentration. You do a tough five-set match which lasts four hours and when you sit up there it feels like a half an hour.” By contrast, “The opposite is also possible. You might do a match, that might never really pick up, you know, and it’s not the most exciting match in the world and it’s one hour and it feels like three hours. The closer the match is, the tougher the match is, the better the tennis is, the easier it is to concentrate. You get into the flow and the match just drives you along.”

Mistakes still do happen, of course. Umpires are taught not to dwell on them. “We just really always think forward. We always just think about the next call. The more you think about what happened the more chance there is that you’ll miss something else because you’re losing concentration.”

Few mistakes have lasting effects like the one in Venus Williams’ second round match at Wimbledon 2004, when the umpire incorrectly awarded an extra point to her opponent, Karolina Sprem, in the second-set tiebreak. No one corrected the error, and Sprem went on to win the match, though Williams did earn – and lose – three set points along the way.

“Usually, at least in men’s tennis, if you call the score wrong for two points in succession one of the players is going to tell you.” Or, if not the players, a line judge. “It’s not something that happens really often.” Modern technology helps: umpires have tablets that connect directly to the scoreboard so when he punches in the score everyone sees it and it feeds through to TV. A wrong score popping up in those circumstances generally gets a reaction in the stadium.

The hardest thing to learn, Nili says, is “to see the ball well”. Most, though not all, of the top rank of umpires play tennis themselves. “And then communication and not taking things personally.”

One surprising thing to learn is that just as the players must change their games in shifting from clay to grass, so must umpires change their procedures.

“It’s kind of like an art to umpire on clay,” Nili says. “It’s very different. You have to have a better feeling for the match. You have to have done a lot of clay-court matches in order to be a good clay-court umpire.” Years of experience on other surfaces doesn’t automatically translate.

“It’s a lot different.” On other surfaces – hard, indoor, grass – whether or not Hawkeye is available, as soon as a point ends the umpire looks at the loser in case he has questions, comments, or breaks a racquet. “On clay you keep staring at the mark so you don’t lose it.” Obviously. Because: if there’s a disagreement you will have to get down and go check it.

Asked to name the stand-out matches he’s umpired, Nili picks first the 2008 match between Rafael Nadal and Carlos Moya, which stretched to three tiebreaker sets and took two hours, 35 minutes to finish. “The longest three-set match ever played on hard court,” Nili says, and also, “Every point was really amazing. That’s probably the best tennis I would say, I’ve umpired.” Then he names a match from a few months ago: Federer versus Djokovic at this year’s Indian Wells final – “That was a good match.” He umpires comparatively few women’s matches, but obliges with Serena Williams versus Jelena Jankovic in Rome.

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Quotes of the week from the Aegon Championships at The Queen’s Club

 

Quotes of the week from the Aegon Championships at The Queen’s Club

 

By Wendy M. Grossman

 

(June 14, 2014) LONDON – Feliciano Lopez, asked if he regrets learning to play the very unSpanish game of serve and volley: “God gave me this serve when I was really young, so I have to take advantage of it.”

 

Radek Stepanek, asked how he still finds motivation to play: “I know what’s behind the question.”

 

Stanislas Wawrinka, asked how much force it takes to break a racquet in half, as he did during his straight-sets semifinal loss to Grigor Dimitrov: “I don’t know. You should try.”

 

Marinko Matosevic, asked about comments he made earlier in the week to the effect that he’d never have a female coach because he doesn’t think highly of women’s tennis, comments Sam Stosur called “thick-headed”: “Women are a big inspiration to me. I didn’t mean it to be sexist at all.”

 

Andy Murray, asked whether he thought there might be advantages to having a woman as a coach: “Well, to be honest, I don’t know because not every woman is the same.”

 

Ernests Gulbis, asked how he celebrated reaching the semi-finals at the French Open: “I smoked a cigar with my friends outside in Jurmala…Then everybody went to Kazanow and we had just one special room and we played Blackjack.

 

Grigor Dimitrov, asked if the shirt he was wearing was an England (football supporter) shirt: “You wish.”

 

Andy Murray, asked if he finds peace and quiet pushing a lawnmower: “Actually, I have never done it in my life… The lawn wouldn’t look great if I tried it.”

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After the Clay, a Pain in the Grass

 

By Wendy M. Grossman

 

(June 13, 2014) LONDON – The most spectacular day of tennis every year is the first day of Queen’s Club. The day before is the French Open final, the culmination of months of looking at crushed-brick courts and players knocking the burnt-orangey dust out of the treads on their shoes. The next morning the courts are bright emerald-green and everything old is new again. It’s grass season.

 

The difficulty of the shift is underlined by the abrupt change in cast. All of a sudden, the tour is awash in tall, skinny beanpoles whopping down serves from the height of a basketball hoop. Physically, even the best-adapted grass-court player pays a price for the change.

 

“My back,” said Kevin Anderson, when asked what body part hurts the most. He explains: the ball stays definitely lower. At 6 foot 8, Anderson has to bend a lot anyway – but the need is more pronounced on grass, and he has to reach more and farther because of the way grass can skid a ball away from you. “I feel it more on grass.” Apparently he’s happy to help dish out the pain, naming the backhand slice, which notoriously stays low and skids off the grass, as the shot he most needs to get in gear for the grass season.

 

Andy Murray, coming off his third-round loss to Radek Stepanek, noted the “little pains” because of the change of surface (while not blaming them for the loss). You use different muscles, and you use them differently, he said, than on clay, where he finds that the sliding makes his quads hurt most. On grass, he says his lower back, butt, and hamstrings “can get a bit stiff”.

 

Stanislas Wawrinka said, “You have to be lower on your feet, and sometimes the knee or the back can be difficult. But this year was OK. I had time to adapt myself.”

 

Grigor Dimitrov, because of his early loss at the French Open, has also had more time to adjust than some of the others. He said he spent last week running 25 miles, which, he says, has added up: “the quads, the glutes”. In general, he says, “I think the part that really hurts the most on grass is the lower back, the glutes, and the adductors. I think those are the parts that always, even if you play the shortest two sets, the next day you’re gonna come back and feel a little funky.”

 

What seems to definitely help is experience. Radek Stepanek, who beat Murray in the third round and followed up by downing Anderson in the quarters, said “I know exactly which muscles are going to hurt me after the first two days on grass. I’m protecting them already before coming here with the prevention exercises.” The issue for him, he said, is glutes and lower back. Despite the preventive work he does, though, he said wryly, “It always comes anyway, but you know, I’m trying to adjust the level of pain, you know, as low as I can.”

 

Leave it to Dimitrov to put the whole thing in perspective: “[I] don’t really care any more, because with or without pain, it doesn’t really matter.”

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Andy Murray Falls to Radek Stepanek in Queen’s Club Third Round

 

 

 

By Wendy M. Grossman

(June 12, 2014) LONDON – “You can tell Andy’s playing, There’s no queue.” Yes: 4pm in London, tea set out with strawberries, cakes, and sandwiches, and no one in sight.

Andy Murray was indeed out playing on the Queen’s Club centre court on a sunny, hot-for-England day (a ball girl had to be led off court and given water). His opponent: Radek Stepanek, the sort of veteran Czech player whose sharp volleys and grass court sense you don’t want to face a few days after making the switch from clay.

In the first set, Stepanek led 5-4, fashioned a break point on the Murray serve, and lost it to a sharp Murray angle into his backhand corner. At 6-2, Murray, in the tiebreak, it seemed clear Murray was going to prevail. And then stuff happened: Murray got hesitant and stopped hitting quite so hard; Stepanek went on playing well. Murray had more set points, at 7-6, and 8-7 (netted the return), and 9-8 (Stepanek into Murray’s backhand corner), and 10-9 (return long). And then Murray sent up a beautiful lob at 10-10, and…well, it was beautiful until it landed long. Stepanek, offered a second set point of his own, promptly scored a nice angled volley winner. Game and first set.

Stepanek scored a break at the beginning of the second set, and never let go after that, eventually winning 7-6(10), 6-2.

“I thought the first set was a pretty high standard,” Murray said afterwards, adding that given the number of set points he’d had, “I’ve only got myself to blame.”

Stepanek called it “a great win for me”, adding that, “you always want to come out and play your best against the best players”.

There aren’t many players left with Stepanek’s serve and volley style. Stepanek would like to see more of it; Murray might too, given that he’s often been successful at using such players as easy targets to pass.

The upshot is that where last year Murray lost early at the French Open and had ten days of grass-court practice in England before the season started, this year he came into Queen’s with only two days to make the shift, and now will go into Wimbledon with only two grass-court matches played. He plans to take the next few days off, then begin again on Sunday with the “Rally for Bally” charity match to raise money in the memory of the late British player Elena Baltacha. He’ll start practicing in earnest Sunday evening, looking to improve his service return and get used to the lower-bouncing balls. “I was too upright on the court, especially when I was rushed,” he said.

 

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Andy Murray Wins at Queen’s Club with New Coach Amelie Mauresmo

 

(June 11, 2014) Andy Murray returned to where his grass-court journey started twelve months ago and immediately picked up where he left off.

 

The defending Aegon Championships and Wimbledon champion cruised past Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-4, 6-4. He will now face Radek Stepanek in round three at The Queen’s Club in London.

 

“I was looking forward to getting back on the court,” said Murray. “I enjoy playing here, I love being back on the grass. Grass is a surface I have always enjoyed. Today was a good start.”

His victory was the first earned in front of new coach Amelie Mauresmo, who earlier joined him on the practice court for the first time.

 

After the match, Murray explained why he opted to work with Mauresmo, citing the Frenchwoman’s strengths, his requirements, and her many achievements in the sport. If all goes according to plan, they will work together beyond the grass court season.

 

“I hope it works out long term because I like her,” said Murray. “She’s a good person. I hope it works out well.”

 

Elsewhere, Stanislas Wawrinka went through easily because a shoulder injury forced Marcos Baghdatis to retire while 2-3 down. Wawrinka will now take on the 2010 champion Sam Querrey in the third round.

 

Jo Wilfried Tsonga also prevailed, but four-time champion Lleyton Hewitt fell to Feliciano Lopez, and the French Open semifinalist Ernests Gulbis went out to Kenny De Schepper.

 

On Thursday, the second seed Tomas Berdych starts against Adrian Mannarino, then Murray faces Radek Stepanek. They are followed on to the court by Wawrinka vs. Querrey and then Jo Wilfried Tsonga vs. Marinko Matosevic.

 

A doubles match featuring Britain’s Jamie Murray and Australian partner John Peers against the five-time doubles champions Bob and Mike Bryan Bryan will bring the Centre Court programme to a close.

 

De Schepper vs. Lopez, Grigor Dimitrov vs. Edouard Roger-Vasselin, and Alex Dolgopolov vs. Jarkko Niemenen will be the first three matches on Court One.

RESULTS – WEDNESDAY, 11 JUNE 2014

Singles – Second Round
[1] [WC] S Wawrinka (SUI) d [WC] M Baghdatis (CYP) 32 ret. (shoulder)
[3] A Murray (GBR) d P Mathieu (FRA) 64 64
[5] J Tsonga (FRA) d D Goffin (BEL) 76(5) 62
K De Schepper (FRA) d [6] E Gulbis (LAT) 76(3) 75
[8] A Dolgopolov (UKR) d D Istomin (UZB) 76(3) 76(7)
[10] F Lopez (ESP) d L Hewitt (AUS) 63 64
S Stakhovsky (UKR) d [11] V Pospisil (CAN) 64 64
J Nieminen (FIN) d [12] D Tursunov (RUS) 76(3) 76(3)
E Roger-Vasselin (FRA) d [13] N Mahut (FRA) 63 16 76(5)
[15] R Stepanek (CZE) d B Tomic (AUS) 76(4) 76(5)
M Matosevic (AUS) d L Lacko (SVK) 76(3) 63
A Mannarino (FRA) d V Estrella Burgos (DOM) 61 62

Doubles – Second Round
[3] D Nestor (CAN) / N Zimonjic (SRB) d G Dimitrov (BUL) / S Wawrinka (SUI) 76(4) 75
[4] L Paes (IND) / R Stepanek (CZE) d N Monroe (USA) / V Pospisil (CAN) 76(1) 61
[5] R Bopanna (IND) / A Qureshi (PAK) d J Chardy (FRA) / D Tursunov (RUS) 76(2) 64
K Anderson (RSA) / J Erlich (ISR) d [6] T Huey (PHI) / D Inglot (GBR) 67(5) 64 10-4
[8] C Fleming (GBR) / M Matkowski (POL) d E Butorac (USA) / R Klaasen (RSA) 64 76(3)

SCHEDULE – THURSDAY, 12 JUNE 2014

CENTRE COURT start 12:30 pm
A Mannarino (FRA) vs [2] T Berdych (CZE)
[15] R Stepanek (CZE) vs [3] A Murray (GBR)
[1] [WC] S Wawrinka (SUI) vs S Querrey (USA)
M Matosevic (AUS) vs [5] J Tsonga (FRA)
[1] B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) vs J Murray (GBR) / J Peers (AUS)

COURT 1 start 12:30 pm
K De Schepper (FRA) vs [10] F Lopez (ESP)
[4] G Dimitrov (BUL) vs E Roger-Vasselin (FRA)
J Nieminen (FIN) vs [8] A Dolgopolov (UKR)
After appropriate rest – A Dolgopolov (UKR) / E Gulbis (LAT) vs [7] J Benneteau (FRA) / E Roger-Vasselin (FRA)

COURT 9 start 2:00 pm
[7] K Anderson (RSA) vs S Stakhovsky (UKR)
F Lopez (ESP) / J Melzer (AUT) vs [2] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA)

 

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Hewitt Advances at Queen’s Club

(June 9, 2014) Four-time champion Lleyton Hewitt and Britain’s No.2 and No.3 players were all winners on day one of the Aegon Championships at The Queen’s Club.
After joining Tournament Director Ross Hutchins and the Centre Court crowd in a minute’s silence in memory of Elena Baltacha, James Ward overcame Blaz Rola of Slovenia 7-5, 6-4.
He was followed by Dan Evans, who battled tenaciously to see off the former World No.8 Jurgen Melzer, 6-3, 6-7(5) 7-6(2).
After that, it was Hewitt’s turn to remind everyone just why he won Wimbledon in 2002, dismantling Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-3, 6-3, before Feliciano Lopez and Dusan Lajovic were interrupted by rain with the score at 6-3.
On Tuesday, Lopez and Lajovic will play to a finish at the earlier time of 12 Noon, and they will be followed by Evans in second round action against Kevin Anderson. After that, the 2012 champion Marin Cilic will take on Marinko Matosevic of Australia, before arguably the match of the day between James Ward and the youngest man inside the Top 20, Grigor Dimitrov. After that, the second seed Tomas Berdych meets James Duckworth.

Aegon Championships

ATP World Tour 250
London, Great Britain  (+1 hour GMT)
9-15 June 2014   Surface: Grass

RESULTS – MONDAY, 9 JUNE 2014

Singles – First Round
[13] N Mahut (FRA) d [Q] M Ilhan (TUR) 63 64
S Querrey (USA) d [14] J Chardy (FRA) 67(4) 76(4) 76(5)
D Kudla (USA) d M Russell (USA) 46 63 61
[WC] J Ward (GBR) d B Rola (SLO) 75 64
[WC] D Evans (GBR) d J Melzer (AUT) 63 67(5) 76(2)
S Stakhovsky (UKR) d [Q] D Brands (GER) 75 62
B Tomic (AUS) d T Smyczek (USA) 64 36 75
P Mathieu (FRA) d A Bedene (SLO) 76(2) 64
K De Schepper (FRA) d S Devvarman (IND) 64 75
L Hewitt (AUS) d D Gimeno-Traver (ESP) 63 63
A Mannarino (FRA) d [WC] D Cox (GBR) 75 62
[Q] J Duckworth (AUS) d D Sela (ISR) 06 76(5) 64

Doubles – First Round

K Anderson (RSA) / J Erlich (ISR) d M Ebden (AUS) / M Fyrstenberg (POL) 63 64
SCHEDULE – TUESDAY, 10 JUNE 2014

CENTER COURT start 12:00 noon
D Lajovic (SRB) vs [10] F Lopez (ESP) 36 – to finish
[7] K Anderson (RSA) vs [WC] D Evans (GBR)
[9] M Cilic (CRO) vs M Matosevic (AUS)
[4] G Dimitrov (BUL) vs [WC] J Ward (GBR)
[Q] J Duckworth (AUS) vs [2] T Berdych (CZE)
G Dimitrov (BUL) / S Wawrinka (SUI) vs [WC] K Skupski (GBR) / N Skupski (GBR)

COURT 1 start 12:30 pm

D Goffin (BEL) vs D Thiem (AUT)
[WC] M Baghdatis (CYP) vs B Klahn (USA)
D Kudla (USA) vs S Querrey (USA)
C Guccione (AUS) / L Hewitt (AUS) vs J Chardy (FRA) / D Tursunov (RUS)
N Mahut (FRA) / J Tsonga (FRA) vs F Lopez (ESP) / J Melzer (AUT)

COURT 2 start 12:30 pm

[12] D Tursunov (RUS) vs I Sijsling (NED)
E Roger-Vasselin (FRA) vs E Donskoy (RUS)
[15] R Stepanek (CZE) vs M Kukushkin (KAZ)
M Ebden (AUS) vs L Lacko (SVK)
M Cilic (CRO) / A Sa (BRA) vs N Monroe (USA) / V Pospisil (CAN) 64 11 – to finish

COURT 9 start 12:30 pm

B Paire (FRA) vs J Nieminen (FIN)
[16] J Benneteau (FRA) vs V Estrella Burgos (DOM)
A Dolgopolov (UKR) / E Gulbis (LAT) vs J Nieminen (FIN) / G Simon (FRA)
E Butorac (USA) / R Klaasen (RSA) vs M Matosevic (AUS) / B Paire (FRA)
J Murray (GBR) / J Peers (AUS) vs [WC] D Evans (GBR) / J Ward (GBR)

COURT 10 start 12:30 pm

P Lorenzi (ITA) vs [11] V Pospisil (CAN)
D Istomin (UZB) vs [Q] F Dustov (UZB)

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Hall of Fame rings presented to Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, and Ivan Lendl at World Tennis Day Showdon in London

 

NEWPORT, R.I., March 3, 2014- Tennis fans around the globe celebrated World Tennis Day at a huge array of special events on March 3, and a highlight of it all was the World Tennis Day Showdown in London, featuring Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Ivan Lendl, and Pat Cash. Between matches, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum hosted a special ceremony to present official Hall of Fame rings to Agassi, Sampras, and Lendl. All three former world No. 1’s have been enshrined in the International Tennis Hall of Fame in recognition of their tremendous tennis achievements and the Hall of Fame rings are a symbol of this success.

 

 

The rings were presented by Hall of Fame Chairman Christopher Clouser, ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti, and Ingrid Lofdahl Bentzer, who serves as Vice Chairman of the Hall of Fame’s Enshrinee Nominating Committee.

 

“Andre, Pete, and Ivan have accomplished all that one can dream of in tennis – they are former world No. 1’s, Grand Slam champions, Davis Cup champions, and Hall of Famers,” commented Clouser. “These one-of-a-kind rings are a symbol of all that they have accomplished and their legacy in the sport.”

 

In addition to the rings, the ceremony paid tribute to the Hall of Fame Class of 2014, which was announced earlier in the day. John Barrett, British tennis journalist and historian, and Chantal Vandierendonck, a wheelchair tennis champion and 5-time Paralympic medalist, both of whom were named to the Class of 2014, participated in the ceremony.

 

The personalized rings were introduced in 2011 and are being presented to Hall of Famers at tennis events around the world over the next few years as a special symbol of their Hall of Fame enshrinement. The rings bear a green stone set in gold, to complement the International Tennis Hall of Fame’s brand colors. In addition, the rings are etched with each honoree’s name and the Hall of Fame logo crest. Ivan Lendl, an 8-time Grand Slam tournament champion, was honored with Hall of Fame enshrinement in 2001. Great American tennis rivals Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi were enshrined in 2007 and 2011, respectively.

Francesco Ricci Bitti, John Barrett, Andre Agassi, Chris Clouser, Ivan Lendl, Chantal Vandierendonck, Pete Sampras, Ingrid Lofdahl Bentzer

 

Photos by Dave Shopland

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