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Countdown to Wimbledon: Murray’s return and what to look out for this grass-court season

Countdown to Wimbledon: Murray’s return and what to look out for this grass-court season

10/06/2019 at 17:48Updated 10/06/2019 at 18:12

The clay season is over, it’s time to switch to the grass courts. Here’s what to look out for this June ahead of Wimbledon next month.

Rafael Nadal closed out the clay season with his 12th French Open victory on Sunday, a day after Ashleigh Barty claimed her maiden Grand Slam at Roland Garros.

And there is now less than a month for both ATP and WTA players to prepare for the third Grand Slam of the year, with Wimbledon set to start on July 1.

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The grass-court season is the UK’s time to shine, so long as the rain holds off, with Nottingham, Birmingham, London and Eastbourne playing host to warm-up events for Wimbledon.

Carolina Garcia and Donna Vekic are among the players in action at Nottingham this week, while Johanna Konta – fresh from her run to the French Open semi-finals – will be taking part in Birmingham’s Nature Valley Classic from June 17, live on Eurosport.

Joining Konta in Birmingham for the Premier event will be world number one Naomi Osaka, five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams, newly crowned Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty, as well as defending champion Petra Kvitova.

Former world number one Maria Sharapova is set to return to the tour after accepting a wildcard entry at the Mallorca Open, four months after undergoing surgery on her right shoulder.

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Meanwhile, Alexander Zverev and Karen Khachanov are among the ATP players taking part in the Mercedes Cup this week, with Milos Raonic, Gael Monfils and Jo-Wilfreid Tsonga also in action.

Next week’s Fever-Tree Championships at Queen’s in London is set to be the scene of Andy Murray’s return, with the Briton lined up to play doubles alongside Feliciano Lopez.

Murray has not played competitively since undergoing hip resurfacing surgery in January, and Queen’s will offer the Briton a stepping stone as he ponders whether he is ready to return to singles action.

“I am really excited to return to the match court for the first time since my surgery,” said Murray.

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“Queen’s has always been a special place for me and it’s the perfect place to return. It’s where I won my first ATP match, my first title in Britain and on grass, and it’s been my most successful tournament overall.

"I’m not yet ready to return to the singles court, but I’ve been pain-free for a few months now. I’ve made good progress in training and on the practice court, and this is the next step for me as I try to return to the tour.”

The singles at Queen’s boasts a strong line-up, with Juan Martin del Potro joined by defending champion Marin Cilic, as well as Kevin Anderson, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Stan Wawrinka, Raonic, Denis Shapovalov and Kyle Edmund.

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Roger Federer heads the Halle line-up, with Dominic Thiem, Zverev and defending champion Borna Coric out to claim victory in the ATP 500 tournament.

Rafael Nadal confirmed he would not play until Wimbledon, while Novak Djokovic looks set to do likewise. The Serbian accepted a Queen’s wildcard last year, but a repeat of that late entry does not look likely.

ATP pre-Wimbledon schedule

  • June 10-16: Mercedes Cup, Stuttgart – ATP 250
  • June 10-16: Libema Open, Hertogenbosch – ATP 250
  • June 17-23: Fever-Tree Championships, London – ATP 500
  • June 17-23: Noventi Open, Halle – ATP 500
  • June 23-39: Turkish Airlines Open, Antalya – ATP 250
  • June 23-29: Nature Valley International, Eastbourne – ATP 250
  • WTA pre-Wimbledon schedule
  • June 10-16: Nature Valley Open, Nottingham – International - LIVE ON EUROSPORT
  • June 10-16: Libema Open, Hertogenbosch – International
  • June 17-23: Nature Valley Classic, Birmingham – Premier - LIVE ON EUROSPORT
  • June 17-23: Mallorca Open – International
  • June 23-29: Nature Valley International, Eastbourne – Premier - LIVE ON EUROSPORT