A summer of unmissable tennis starts this week in west London. Best get the strawberries and cream in…
Fever-Tree Championships, from 1pm, Monday 17 June, BBC Two HD (CH 102)
It’s official: the grass-court tennis season is here. How do we know? Because some of the biggest stars of the men’s game are ready to battle it out at the Fever-Tree Championships, live on the BBC.
With its immaculate courts and convivial atmosphere, this historic tournament at the Queen’s Club in West London presents the perfect chance for players to fine-tune their forehands and hone their backhands ahead of Wimbledon. But if this year’s competitors have their eyes on glory at SW19 next month, they should be wary. Of the winners in the last 30 editions of this tournament, only seven have gone on to triumph at Wimbledon.
Still, don’t expect any of the stars on show to go out of their way to avoid lifting the trophy at Queen’s Club. Among those serving up a treat for fans is defending champion Marin Čilić, former US Open champion Juan-Martín del Potro, British number one Kyle Edmund and the ever controversial Nick Kyrgios. Add the likes of Stanislas Wawrinka, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov into the draw and you’ve got an unmissable week of action.
Plus, there will be plenty of eyes on a certain Andy Murray when he returns to the court following hip surgery. The Brit has not played since January, but he recently announced that he expects to play doubles alongside Feliciano López at Queen’s Club.
Ahead of the tournament, BBC tennis pundit and former UK number one Andrew Castle tells us which aces we should be keeping an eye on…
With Andy Murray’s future still uncertain, the hopes of a nation will be on the shoulders of 24-year-old Edmund this summer.
Andrew Castle’s verdict: “Kyle is already a celebrated and world-class player. I think he’ll take following in the footsteps of Andy Murray in his stride. The biggest issue he’s got is there’s only two or three weeks of grass-court tennis. He’s not grown up with a lot of play on grass and because of that his game is suited to harder surfaces. He’s got a forehand that’s as big as anybody’s in the game though. He could knock a wall down with it.”
A patchy 2019 for the Croatian could be given a boost when he takes to the court at a venue that he’s very familiar with.
Andrew Castle’s verdict: “When you’ve won twice at Queen’s you can’t be taken lightly. And Čilić has definitely got the tools to go all the way again at Queen’s. But grass courts can change from year to year, so you don’t always know what you’re going to get. That’s true of a lot of players.”
Controversial? Yep. Supremely talented? You bet. Following his recent outburst at the Italian Open, the Australian doesn’t look like he’ll be mellowing any time soon.
Andrew Castle’s verdict: “He’s a fantastic player who’s capable of any height he wishes to attain. But he has quite a delicate temper! You never know what you’re going to get with Kyrgios, but on his day he can beat anybody in the world. They love watching him play in London. He’s charming and a lovely bloke, but he has a tendency to lose it on court.”
Juan-Martín del Potro
The 2009 US Open champion remains one of the most gifted (and well-liked) stars in the game. Get a grip on his injury issues and he could still seriously compete at the highest level.
Andrew Castle’s verdict: “I’m looking forward to seeing del Potro play. This is a bloke who is out of the very top drawer, but who hasn’t been able give his best for a while now because of his injury problems. But you could see him going deep into the tournament and then beyond that at Wimbledon as well. He’s one of a number of guys who could potentially win.”
Don’t be fooled by the retro mane and headband – this young Greek star is among the vanguard challenging the status quo in tennis. A future Grand Slam champion? It’s likely.
Andrew Castle’s verdict: “Tsitsipas has got the tennis world more excited than any other player breaking through right now. There’s something about his poise on court. It’s world class. The way he moves onto his forehand, it’s exactly what Pete Sampras used to do. It never hurts to be tall, languid and have long hair either! If he’s playing tennis, people will watch.”
TV channels: Channels, content and features available depend on your chosen package. Channel line-ups and content are subject to change at any time and to regional variations.
HD: HD TV set, V HD Box, TiVo box or Virgin TV V6 connected with HDMI cables required for HD channels. Number of inclusive HD channels depends on package.
Interviews: Any opinions expressed in interviews are those of the interview subject and not those of Virgin Media.