Following a fantastic clay court season which saw Rafa Nadal return to domination on the men’s circuit and Maria Sharapova climb back to the top of the rankings and win her first Slam for four years on the women’s, we have now moved to the grass and this week’s action takes place in Queens, London and Halle, Germany.
Things haven’t been going well so far this week for the big names at Queens and last year’s two finalists have already been dumped out of this competition.
Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga produced a thrilling final here in 2011 and returned as the top two seeds this time around. British no.1, Andy Murray was expected to gain some much needed grass court practice and following on from a great performance in Paris, Tsonga would have been keen to boost his confidence with a title here.
Murray succumbed in three tight sets to Frenchman, Nicolas Mahut on Tuesday afternoon, whilst Tsonga fell again in three sets to Croatia’s Ivan Dodig on Thursday afternoon.
With previous winner and crowd favourite, Andy Roddick also going out early, there is now a real chance for one of the lower ranked players to make a name for themselves.
Considering the number of big names who have dropped out already it is perhaps not surprising to now see Marin Cilic as the 3/1 favourite with the bookmakers, and having struggled to fulfil the potential he was showing earlier in his career, Cilic will be keen to secure a title here and make a real assault on Wimbledon later this month.
Another man who may feel like it’s his time to finally win a grass court event is 30-year-old Argentinean, David Nalbandian. Having reached the final at Wimbledon 10 years ago, Nalbandian is still to win any form of title on the surface, but things have definitely opened up for him here and he has every chance of success.
Janko Tipsarevic is the highest ranked player left in the draw and he too will be confident of success in London this week. Janko was a runner-up at Eastbourne 12 months ago and can certainly perform on this surface.
Meanwhile, over in Halle, Germany, Rafa Nadal is showing just why he could be destined for a return to the top of the world rankings, with some energetic and assured grass court tennis, just days after triumphing for a record seventh time at Roland Garros.
With Nadal, Federer, Berdych and Raonic all in attendance, the Halle event is certainly outshining its Queens counterpart in 2012 and the weekend is set to see some fascinating battles.
Rafa defeated Slovakian, Lukas Lacko in his opener, for the loss of just six games, and Roger came through in equally comfortable style with a straight sets victory over German, Florian Mayer.
Match of the week so far in Halle came in the first round match between Andreas Seppi and Radek Stepanek. The Czech took the first set following a tight tie-breaker before Seppi sneaked the second set, 6-4. The deciding set was another tight affair and was eventually decided with a dramatic tie-breaker, which Stepanek took 9-7.
Canadian, Milos Raonic will meet Roger Federer in Friday afternoon’s quarter-final, whilst Rafa Nadal comes up against home favourite Philipp Kohlschreiber. Both Federer and Nadal would be expected to make it through to Saturday’s semis, where we could see Berdych taking on Rafa and Youzhny meeting Roger.
Clearly it’s looking like the top two seeds could be destined to meet in Sunday’s final and if a Federer v Nadal final does come about then as well as providing a fantastic finale to the event, it could also give us an excellent pointer towards each man’s Wimbledon prospects; an event which will get underway little over a week later.
Quarter-final: Sam Querrey v Ivan Dodig
Quarter-final: Igor Dimitrov v Kevin Anderson
Semi-final: David Nalbandian v Kevin Anderson
Final: David Nalbandian v Janko Tipsarevic
Quarter-final: Rafa Nadal v Philipp Kohlschreiber
Quarter-final: Roger Federer v Milos Raonic
Semi-final: Rafa Nadal v Tomas Berdych
Final: Rafa Nadal v Roger Federer