Three-time grand slam champion Stan Wawrinka has been included in the latest group of players set to play at The Fever-Tree Championships at The Queen’s Club in London.
Wawrinka will grace his presence at the grass-court tournament alongside 2014 champion Grigor Dimitrov and 2016 finalist Milos Raonic. Despite his success on the tour in recent years, the 34-year-old is yet to win a title on the grass. His best ever performance on the surface was reaching the final of the Rosmalen Championships back in 2013. Furthermore, Wimbledon is the only major he is yet to reach the semi-finals at and he hasn’t won back-to-back matches there since 2015.
‘The Fever-Tree Championships is a great event and the grass courts at The Queen’s Club are perfect every year,” said Wawrinka. “I am very much looking forward to returning in June.’
This year will be Wawrinka’s seventh appearance at Queen’s. In three out of his past five appearances, he has lost to either the runner-up or champion of the tournament.”
Canadian world No.16 Raonic has described Queen’s as ‘the best way to prepare for Wimbledon.’ Since his run to the 2016 final, he has experienced disappointment at the tournament. Suffering a shock first round loss in the following year and then withdrawing from the 2018 event due to a right shoulder injury.
“You have some of the best players in the world competing at this event on pristine grass courts, with a very homely feel, at a tennis club. I think it’s great to be in London at that time of year as well. I really have enjoyed playing well there in the past, and hopefully I can continue to do so.” Said Raonic.
Meanwhile, Dimitrov is hoping that he will be able to continue his ‘special connection’ with the tournament.
“I have a special connection with everyone that works there and the crowd, and will always look back with happy memories on winning the event in 2014. I am already looking forward to coming back again in June.” The Bulgarian commented.
Queen's Club line-up:
— Michal Samulski (@MichalSamulski) April 26, 2019
The new events
Besides hosting the ATP 500 event, The Queen’s Club will also be the venue for two brand new tournaments in the sport. The Fever-Tree Wheelchair Tennis Championships is set to be the first-ever grass-court ranking wheelchair event to take place outside of Wimbledon. Eight players will participate in the draw with points won going towards the qualifying benchmark for the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.
“‘Last year’s (exhibition) tournament was a huge success and we are delighted to be able to run it as a tour event with ranking points this year. Wheelchair tennis is a great sport for fans to watch, and the event is a fantastic addition to the Fever-Tree Championships.’ said tournament director Stephen Farrow.
The list of players participating will be announced in due course.
Taking place during the same time as the wheelchair tournament will be the inaugural Paul Hutchins Trophy. A tournament named in honour of the former British Davis Cup captain who passed away earlier this year following a fight with motor neuron disease. The under-18s tournament will see players from America and Great Britain play against each other. Each country will field four players.
“The Paul Hutchins Trophy is a fantastic way to honour my Dad. I know he would have been very proud of this and would have loved to have been able to watch the younger players compete at such an iconic location. I’m sure it will be an excellent event.” Former player Ross Hutchins said.
Both tournaments will take place during the Fever-Tree Championships, which will get underway on June 17th.
Felix Auger-Aliassime Survives Australian Open Marathon
For a second time this week the Canadian was pushed but managed to win a tough four-set match against his Spanish opponent.
Felix Auger-Aliassime booked his spot in the third round of the Australian Open after beating Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-6, 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 in a match that lasted four hours and 20 minutes.
The Montreal native hit 58 winners and served 28 aces while Davidovich Fokina hit 51 unforced errors. It is the second time the 21-year-old has reached the last 32 in Melbourne Park in what is his third appearence.
The first game of the match was a nervy one for the world number nine as it lasted six minutes and it involved him saving two breakpoints before being able to hold serve. The opener stayed on serve until 2-2 when the Fokina came up with an impressive passing shot to set up two more chances for the first break of serve of the match and this time managed to convert. Three games later the Canadian fought back and broke right back to go back on serve.
It was a tiebreak which decided the first set. The Montreal native jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the Spaniard came back again to win the next four points but the Canadian responded again winning three straight points to take the breaker 7-4 and the first set.
The second set was another impressive performance on serve by both players and once again was decided by a back and forth breaker that this time was won by Davidovich Fokina to level the match.
The third frame was much the same as both players kept their level up and not much differentiated the two. This tiebreaker was much more straightforward as the Canadian jumped out to a 5-1 lead before closing out the third set 7-5 and taking two sets to one lead.
The fourth set stayed on serve until 2-1 when the world number 50 had a chance to break and was able to get it for a 3-1 lead before the Canadian was able to break back the following game to go back on serve.
For the fourth time, the set was decided by a tiebreaker and this one was super tight with the Canadian getting the crucial break to take a 4-3 lead and that one break was enough for him to serve it out.
Auger Aliassime will now face Dan Evans in the third round after the Brit was handed a walkover against Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech who pulled out of the match due to injury.
‘Best Feeling I’ve Ever Had’ – Underdog Christopher O’Connell Stuns Schwartzman At Australian Open
Prior to this week the 27-year-old had never won a main draw match at Melbourne Park or beaten a top 20 player.
World No.175 Christopher O’Connell has pulled off a major upset at the Australian Open by knocking out 13th seed Diego Schwartzman.
The 27-year-old wild card had only ever won one match in the main draw of a Grand Slam prior to this year but illustrated the talent that he has with a 7-6, 6-4, 6-4, win over Schwartzman. A player who is currently ranked 162 places above him in the rankings. Against the Argentine he fired a total of 44 winners and won 75% of his first service points on route to claiming his first win over a top 20 player.
“It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had on a tennis court. I’ve been playing tennis since I was four. To have moments like this it’s a dream come true.” O’Connell said during his press conference.
Despite the straightforward score, the match itself was a marathon. The opener alone lasted for almost 90 minutes with the underdog saving three set points whilst down 4-5 before prevailing in the tiebreaker. Then in the following two sets he broke Schwartzman three times in total.
“I knew how crucial that first set was. It was really warming up out there. It was really a battle back and forth. It was crucial to get that first set, especially in the heat,” he said.
A late bloomer on the men’s Tour, the Australian started to make a breakthrough last year by reaching his first quarter-final at the Atlanta Open where he defeated Jannik Sinner. During that year he also reached the final of a French Challenger event before withdrawing due to injury and reached the second round of the US Open.
O’Connell, who has been ranked as high as 111th in the world, credits his coach for helping him reach new milestones in the sport. He is mentored by former player Marinko Matosevic who reached a ranking high of 39th back in 2013 and made more than $2M in prize money during his playing career.
“The process didn’t start yesterday. It’s been happening all of last year,” he stated.
“I’ve been working with Marinko. He’s just really confident with how I want to play tennis now. It’s the first time I’ve really had a one-on-one coach literally every day with me.’
“Marinko was such a great player. All his knowledge of the game, he’s just putting it onto me.”
Next up for O’Connell will be the in-form Maxime Cressy who lost to Rafael Nadal in the final of the Melbourne Summer Set just over a week ago. The American defeated Czech qualifier Tomáš Macháč 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(5), in his second round match.
“I knew I had good results in me. It’s just being consistent. I felt today was a consistent match from me,” he reflected.
“But the biggest thing for me is just staying healthy, not having these injuries where I miss two months of tournaments. I nearly missed five or six months last year. I can’t be doing that.’
“The belief is always there, but I just got to make sure my body’s healthy this year. I want to play a full year.”
French Player Tests Positive For COVID-19 Hours After Australian Open Defeat
The world No.40 was preparing to leave the country.
Ugo Humbert is in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 following his first round loss at the Australian Open on Tuesday.
Humbert, who was the 29th seed in the men’s draw, is understood to have produced a positive result during a routine procedure players have to conduct before they leave the country. It is unclear as to if he is currently suffering from any symptoms.
Humbert crashed out of the tournament to compatriot Richard Gasquet, who won their match 3-6, 7-6(4), 7-6 (3), 6-3, in three hours and 18 minutes. Gasquet also tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in Australia earlier this month but was given the all clear to play at Melbourne Park following a negative test. There was a 15-day period between the 35-year-old announcing on Twitter he had the virus and his first match against Humbert.
“I was tested positive on my exit test yesterday and I’ll stay one more week in isolation in Australia,” Humbert wrote on Instagram.
“Thanks for your support and see you soon.”
The 23-year-old has started his season by winning one out of four matches played. Prior to the Australian Open, he scored one of the biggest wins of his career by defeating Daniil Medvedev at the ATP Cup in the group stages. However, following that victory he suffered losses to Alex de Minaur and Matteo Berrettini.
Tennis Australia is yet to comment on Humbert’s positive test.
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