The two weeks of grasscourt events leading to Wimbledon kicks off with virtually all of the men’s stars immediately taking to the turf, while the WTA’s leading lights choose to rest or play high-paying exos rather than the two WTA events in Birmingham and Copenhagen (Kaia Kanepi the top seed, and Chanelle Scheepers and Alla Kudryavtseva seeded in Birmingham? World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, the top seed at a hardcourt event that has the field quality of a challenger? Really WTA?).
French Open runner-up Roger Federer and former Wimbledon champ Lleyton Hewitt face off first round at the Queen’s Club, and the week also sees the return of formerly injured stars such as Tommy Haas, Andy Roddick and David Nalbandian.
Let the grasscourt season begin:
Seeds: Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Andy Roddick, Stan Wawrinka, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gilles Simon, Fernando “Hot Sauce” Verdasco, Marin Cilic, David Nalbandian, Michael Llodra, Thomaz Bellucci, Juan Martin Del Potro, Sam Querrey, Janko Tipsarevic, Kevin Anderson, Ivan Ljubicic
Floaters: Radek “The Worm” Stepanek, Ryan Sweeting, (WC) Ryan Harrison, Kei Nishikori, Nicolas Mahut, “Dr.” Ivo Karlovic, Feliciano “F-Lo” Lopez, Xavier “X-Man” Malisse
Notes: Early-round popcorn matches abound in (3) Roddick vs. F-Lo (2nd rd.), (2) Murray vs. former Wimbledon semifinalist X-Man, (15) Anderson vs. “Dr.” Ivo, (7) Hot Sauce vs. Mahut (2nd rd.), (13) Querrey vs. Nishikori, (5) Tsonga vs. (WC) Harrison (2nd rd.), and (16) Ljubicic vs. Sweeting; Querrey beat Mardy Fish for last year’s title; Nadal as in past years jumps right from the clay to the grass after winning the French; Roddick chomping at the bit after missing the French due to a shoulder injury; seeds Wawrinka and Bellucci make their first Queen’s Club appearances; the Bryan brothers (former champs in 2005-04, ’01) are the top doubles seeds; Nalbandian returns to the tour after surgery; returning singles champs are Querrey (2010), Murray (2009), Nadal (2008), and Roddick (2007, ’05-03).
Gerry Weber Open
Seeds: Roger Federer, Tomas Berdych, Gael “Force” Monfils, Mikhail Youzhny, Viktor Troicki, Florian Mayer, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Milos Raonic
Floaters: Lleyton Hewitt, (WC) Tommy Haas, (WC) Dustin “German Ganja” Brown
Notes: Federer steps off the clay onto the grass and a first-round match-up with fellow former Wimbledon champ and No. 1 Hewitt (with the winner to likely to face former world No. 2 Haas in the next round); (6) Mayer a tough opener in front of the home crowd against nouveau-German Brown; the first-round Federer-Hewitt blockbuster is a rematch of last year’s final where Hewitt beat Fed; seeds Monfils, Dolgopolov and Raonic makes their debuts at the event; former champs in the field are Hewitt (2010), Haas (2009), Federer (2008, ’06-04), and Berdych (2007).
Seeds: Kaia Kanepi, Ana Ivanovic, Shuai Peng, Daniela Hantuchova, Roberta Vinci, Ekaterina Makarova, Sara Errani, Aravane Rezai, Ayumi Morita, Bojana Jovanovski, Yaroslava Shvedova, Kimiko Date-Krumm, Rebecca Marino, Maggie Rybarikova, Chanelle Scheepers, Alla Kudryavtseva
Floaters: Sabine Lisicki, Sania Mirza, (WC) Heather Watson, Alize Cornet
Notes: Last year’s champion and 2011 French Open winner Li Na skips this one; no Top 15 players in the draw; challenging opening-round match-ups are (12) Date-Krumm vs. the veteran Lisicki, (15) Scheepers vs. the Brit (WC) Watson, and (16) Kudryavtseva vs. Cornet; challenged-in-general American Alexandra “Dr. A” Stevenson qualifies to the main draw; former champions include former No. 1s Jelena Jankovic, Maria Sharapova, Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King, but no returning champs in 2011.
e-Boks Sony Ericsson Open
Seeds: Caroline Wozniacki, Klara Zakopalova, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Lucie Safarova, Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova, Anastasija Sevastova, Jelena Dokic, Alberta Brianti
Notes: The Danish world No. 1 Wozniacki has a pseudo-interesting opener against American grinder and former college star Irini Falconi; Melanie Oudin and other “B”-level Americans in the mix (American Julia Boserup gets a wildcard?); Wozniacki beat Zakopalova in last year’s final; the event is actually played in Farum, north of Copenhagen.
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