It was an enthralling affair this clay court season, but now it is time to turn our heads towards the grass courts. With The Championships Wimbledon 2017 looming up ahead, the players have to adjust their style of play as fast as possible, as the six tournaments leading into the grand slam, get underway this week. We take a look at some of the players and key aspects to look out for on the grass courts this season.
The Maestro’s homecoming
Roger Federer’s long break, after missing out on the entire clay court season, is coming to an end as he gears up to start his bid for a record eighth title in London. Tommy Haas and Federer, kick started the tournament in Stuttgart a few days back after they played mini tennis in the center of Stuttgart at Schlossplatz. Federer addressed the press a few days back, and said that he is well prepared and can’t wait to get onto the grass. He also congratulated Rafael Nadal on his record tenth title, and also went on to add that with the French Open title in his back, Rafa has a boost of confidence that he needed right before the start of the grass court season. Federer also made it clear that right from the start of the year his goal has been to bag another one of those pineapple trophies at Wimbledon, and that he has been training hard throughout his break during his clay court absence. He will face Tommy Haas in his first round, who is one of the eight Germans, who are vying to give Roger a stiff competition.
The return of Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova
Victoria Azarenka will make her comeback when she plays at Mallorca in Spain in the next week, after she took a long absence from the tour, to deliver her first child. The former world no.1 will look to prepare herself before the championships start, by performing well at the tour level. Petra Kvitova made a rather hasty exit from the Roland Garros, but she will look to regain the title at Wimbledon with the absence of Serena Williams, the defending champion. She will begin her campaign at the Aegon Classic at Edgbaston Priory Club in June. Both Vica and Kvitova will look to capitalise on the open women’s draw, which has seen a shift in the rankings, with Simona Halep closing in fast behind the struggling Angelique Kerber, who was knocked out of the first round in the French open. The other names to look out for on the grass are, Genie Bouchard who has had a very inconsistent season, Carolina Pliskova who looks to be hot on the tail of Simona Halep, Caroline Wozniacki and the veteran Venus Williams.
The absence of Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova’s comeback has not been as warmly received by the media and the players alike, and she was not given a wild card entry in to the French Open, despite the other ATP tournaments giving her one. Last week she took to her Facebook page to announce her absence from the entire grass court season due to a thigh injury which forced her to retire from the tournament in Rome. What this long period of absence from competitive tennis means to her future rankings and the impact it will have on her career as a whole remains to be seen.
Other threatening players to look out for
Milos Raonic, who defeated Roger Federer last year at Wimbledon, has parted ways with his coach Richard Krajicek, and will return to the Aegon classic in early June. Philip Kohlschreiber is another player who enjoys grass and will begin his grass court campaign alongside Roger Federer in Stuttgart this week. Andy Murray has not won a single tile this year, but he will be the man to look out for as he looks to defend his title, and will hope that the home crowd will back him up. The likes of Dusin Brown, Sergiy Stakhovsky, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Mischa Zverev and Tomas Berdych have also enjoyed their time on the grass courts and will look to improve on their grass court standings. After losing to Rafa in the finals of Roland Garros, Stan will look to perform well at the third slam of the year, and hope to grab some points as the race to finish world no.1 heats up.
All in all the players have to be fast to change gears, as the time period between the two slams slips faster than quicksand. All eyes will be on Roger Federer as he looks to bag his eighth title in London.