Nadal, Murray Begin Grass Season at Queen’s Club; Del Potro, Nalbandian Return
by Staff | June 8th, 2011, 8:35 am
  • 66 Comments

It’s a big day at the Queen’s Club grass tournament in London. Today, French Open champion Rafael Nadal makes his 2011 grass court debut along with local hero Andy Murray.

Also in action are a pair of Argentines, Juan Martin Del Potro and David Nalbandian, who will play their second round matches.

Nadal, who has won four of the last five Grand Slam tournaments, is the defending Wimbledon champion. The 10-time Slam winner will meet qualifier Matthew Edben of Australia later today. Nadal won Queens in 2009 and he’s reached the quarterfinals or beyond in each of his four appearances at the tournament.

Murray, the 2008 Queens winner, will face former Wimbledon semifinalist Xavier Malisse. The Scot is 3-0 ahead on Malisse and beat the Belgian at Wimbledon in 2008.

Del Potro will battle Igor Kunitsyn while Nalbandian plays Bozoljac.

“I want to have a good ranking for the US Open,” Del Potro said yesterday after his first round win. “I don’t have time [ahead of] Wimbledon. I have won two tournaments this year and it’s amazing. I’m playing really well, but I need time to improve more.

“I want to serve much better than [I am at] this moment. My first goal for this year is playing, stay healthy, playing many tournament and try to recover my game.”

Yesterday, Andy Roddick, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and defending champion Sam Querrey were among the big winners.

Roddick knocked out Feliciano Lopez in three 76(2) 67(5) 64. Lopez slammed 35 aces in the match, but it wasn’t enough.

“I didn’t enjoy it when I saw I might play him in the second round, I’ll tell you that much,” Roddick said. “I knew it was going to be tough. He a very good grass-court player.

“[But] I feel great on grass. This is one of my favourite tournaments in the world and I’m just so happy to be back here in London.”

ORDER OF PLAY – WEDNESDAY, 8 JUNE, 2011

CENTRE start 12:30 pm
[8] M Cilic (CRO) vs [Q] A Clement (FRA)
X Malisse (BEL) vs [2] A Murray (GBR)
[1] R Nadal (ESP) vs [Q] M Ebden (AUS)
[12] J del Potro (ARG) vs I Kunitsyn (RUS)
[7] R Lindstedt (SWE) / H Tecau (ROU) vs M Lopez (ESP) / R Nadal (ESP)

COURT 1 start 12:30 pm
[14] J Tipsarevic (SRB) vs M Russell (USA)
[Q] I Bozoljac (SRB) vs [9] [WC] D Nalbandian (ARG)
R Stepanek (CZE) vs [16] I Ljubicic (CRO)
A Mannarino (FRA) vs [6] G Simon (FRA)


Also Check Out:
Watch David Nalbandian Kick An Umpire Then Get Kicked Out Of The Queen’s Final [Video]
Nadal Withdraws From Queens Due to Bad Knees
Andy Murray Was Practicing At Wimbledon On Sunday, But Still Not Sure About Queen’s [Video]
Nadal Wins, Federer v Raonic In Halle; Tsonga Injured At Queen’s
Roddick Rolls Right Ankle, Blake v. Murray in Queens; Haas Reaches Halle Final

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66 Comments for Nadal, Murray Begin Grass Season at Queen’s Club; Del Potro, Nalbandian Return

Colin Says:

Unfortunately the Murray match is delayed, as play is suspended for rain. Probably won’t last long.


jane Says:

Any sign of the rain letting up soon Colin?


jane Says:

Bald bomber bakes bagel in set one versus sexy Steps. Murray back on track in set three versus Xman.


margot Says:

Yay! come on Andy!


dari Says:

watching a moment of rafa and “ebden” on stream. queens looks tiny rafa and andy just keep rolling from clay to grass :)


stu Says:

Muzza – Tipsa good match, eh?

Who is this new Brit who just beat Stan Wawa?


Seth Says:

I wish grass court tennis wasn’t glorified clay with plants on top of it these days. Especially at Wimbledon. I think a happy medium could be found between the lightning fast ace-fest days of the late 90′s to the absurdly slow and stable courts they have now. Wimbledon simply should not be slower than the U.S. Open.


margot Says:

stu, James Ward is British No2 lol, ranked 200 and something in the world ..but son of a London cabbie so no silver spoon for him and good for him. Has just hooked up with a cage fighter as motivational coach…


stu Says:

cage fighter? lol. i guess one needs that kinda motivation against a fighter like wawa. cool, maybe he’ll take some of the attention away from Andy. (yeah, right!)


PrettyPaula Says:

Nadal didn’t play Queens in 2009. He won in 2008.


M Says:

Haha, thank you, jane!

I think I didn’t realize how quickly this Queens tourney might get interesting.


Eric Says:

Seth, the courts at Halle and Queens are as fast as ever, no? All this nonsense about grass being sooooo slow is based on just one fact, Wimbledon slowing the courts down…in 2001. Since then they’ve been the same courts every year.

But at Halle, and I understand Queens as well (although I usually watch Halle instead), you can see the courts are quite fast.

Again: the courts at Wimbledon are just as fast in 2011 as they were in 2001. Slower than in the 90s, though.

And it’s still faster than the US Open.


Fritz Says:

Wrong Eric!

2010 US Open and Cincy were faster than the 2010 Wimbledon. I expect it to repeat this year too.


Seth Says:

“The grass at Wimbledon is purely rye grass 100%.but it was not the same before…
In 2001, Wimbledon tore out all its courts and planted a new variety of groundcover. The new grass was 100% perennial rye; the old courts had been a mix of 70% rye and 30% creeping red fescue. The new lawn was more durable, and allowed Wimbledon’s groundsmen to keep the soil underneath drier and firmer. A firmer surface causes the ball to bounce higher. A high bounce is anathema to the serve-and-volley player, who relies on approach shots skidding low through the court. What’s more, rye, unlike fescue, grows in tufts that stand straight up; these tufts slow a tennis ball down as it lands.”

From the article quoted, comments section. It has to do not just with the change in grass, but in the change in the firmness of the soil. Simply put, Rafael Nadal would not be a two-time Wimby champ if it weren’t for the change in the grass and soil. It caters more to spin than it used to, which is a shame. We have clay and medium-slow hard courts for that.


Eric Says:

Seth, no one (including me) has ever suggested that Wimbledon is as fast as it was in the 90s. The whole point of the change – which was, again, in 2001 – was to slow the court down and make it more durable. But the courts today are the same courts as in 2001 or 2002. There isn’t some secret conspiracy to make Wimbledon slower and slower each year to let Rafa win more titles there. Whether Wimbledon is slower or faster than the USO or Cincy, the courts are the same as they have been for ten years.

The change, btw, also had a lot to do with durability, apparently, not just a desire to make Wimbledon more interesting (serving contests are boring):
“Head groundsman at the All-England Club, Eddie Seaward, says the new grass was developed because the tournament needed a plant that could withstand the wear of the modern game. Grass surfaces that could put up with lightfooted gents in trousers — like Fred Perry, the Englishman who dominated Wimbledon in the 1930s — couldn’t as easily endure the exertions of, say, 6-ft.-6-in. (1.98 m) Max Mirnyi, a.k.a. the Beast from Belarus.”


Fritz Says:

Eric,

I remember reading in a magazine (was it SI?)about a poll conducted among the top 100 players last December, regarding the GS surfaces. Majority said the fastest was US Open. I don’t seem to be able to find the link, though.

Basically, at US Open the balls are flatter than at Wimby.


Fritz Says:

Out of top 4, I think, only Roger would prefer faster Wimby – it would be at his advantage over the other 3.

Considering that he is on his way out anyways (two more years for him, max), it is only fair to Andy, Rafa nad Novak to make grass slower and have their future battles that much more interesting.


scoreboard66 Says:

That must have been a very humiliating loss for Stan to go out in the first round to a young kid. I wonder if this will affect his confidence during wimby. If memory serves me correctly, Stan gave Murray a tough battle at wimby in 2009.


scoreboard66 Says:

From all the comments made by the players, Cincy is the fastest of the hardcourts, followed by the USO. Miami and IW are slow.

The Wimby grass was changed to cater to the fans wishes, not the players. Apparently, the fans wanted to see longer rallies than the short two-stroke S&V points, which was employed on the Wimby grass, and the Wimby committee complied by changing the the type of grass which would make the long rallies a possibility. After all, it’s the fans that keep these tournaments going. Henman, and a few other players have stated that there have been changes made to the ball size as well. Apparaetly, Tim kept a ball from each year’s Wimby and it’s clear that there has been a definite but graual difference in the size of the ball.

I don’t think that it’s the slowness of the grass that’s helped Rafa to win. I think it’s the lengthy rallies that have been beneficial to him and a lot of other players who do well in long rallies and cannot play S&V. S&V is not as easy as some seem to think. The S&V players have to keep moving forward to the net as soon as they hit a serve which is more tiring than just working off of the baseline.


Eric Says:

Dude, the guy who beat Wawa is 24… hardly a “young kid.” And older than Andy Murray.

What’s pathetic is that he is the British no. 2 behind AM… but he is the world 216. How is Murray the only British tennis player in the top 200??


skeezerweezer Says:

Rafa did not play on the Faster courts at Wimby so he wouldn’t know. He started playin post 2001. Bleacher report gets pwned for that.

Some of you are missing the point, The old Grass, as fast and different as it was, was a completely different playing surface. You can argue that it is still faster or not, but the old Grass had a unique bounce. Now it plays closer to the other courts than by itself based on the changes mentioned earlier. Although boring to some, it was a unique puzzle in making GS so difficult to attain, making the complete player really, a complete player to win on all surfaces. You had ( in most cases ) had to play different tactics.

In pre-2001, on grass the continental grip was King. There was no way in heck with the full western grips being used today you had a chance. This is why you hardly saw any Clay court specialists even ENTER in Wimby, let alone go far in the tourney( all hail Borg ).

Now….well…there you go.
(courtesy of Dr. Ian Malcolm…Chaos Theory)


Tennis Vagabond Says:

All good points that the surface is quite different from 2001 on, but I think the point about the balls is true as well. Not just Henman but several players commented that they’d slowed down, though my memory of that is from the late 90′s and early oughts, so perhaps nothing has changed since 01.
But if you look at Federer’s game, from my recollection, he did a lot more S+V in the early years than he does now, so its likely there have been some changes to conditions this decade.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

So while Rog and Nole take the week off, Rafa adds doubles. I really don’t understand him and his team. I don’t think his body will hold together through the USO.


David C. Says:

Hi, first time poster here, have been reading the site for a while now. I just want to comment on the court speed for many of these tournaments. Apparently, U.S Open been slowed down as well.

“The evidence is more than anecdotal. After the 2000 Open, U.S. Tennis Association officials felt the DecoTurf II at the National Tennis Center in New York was too fast. They slowed it down for 2001 and made another adjustment in 2003.

When Spanish baseliner Juan Carlos Ferrero made it to the final that year against cannon-serving Andy Roddick, officials felt they had achieved a happy medium. It hasn’t changed since.’With Roddick and Ferrero reaching the final that year, we thought we had the right balance,’ USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier says.”

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/tennis/2006-07-16-surface-tension_x.htm

The above article also mentions Wimbledon. A pretty good read.


margot Says:

Eric @7.18..why, why, why oh why indeed…:(


Colin Says:

Regarding the Queens Club grass, after the Malisse match Murray did say it was playing very slow.
It is curious isn’t it, the way the court itself looks small at Queen’s? I suppose it’s because the camera viewpoint is lower down than usual.
Margot, remember how, when Tim Henman was in his prime, together with “British” Rusedski, it was hoped more kids would be inspired to take up tennis? Didn’t happen, though, did it? Let’s face it,in the UK it’s football, football, and then more bloody football!


Michael Says:

It now appears that every court is turning out to be playing slow. Whether it is psychological or real, one doesn’t know ? But many of the players say so and it seems they have a point since they the ones who experience it. Whether it is due to the change in ball or the Court surface is turning slow or the change in environment etc. etc. one doesn’t know. Some say nowadays the Australian hard court is playing slower than even the clay court in Rome Masters. One doesn’t know what is the reason for this slowness. But, slow courts are bad news for offensive players like Federer and they will be at a disadvantage. It is good news for players like Nadal. Not that Nadal cannot play in fast Courts, he has won the US Open which is a fast surface. It is that Nadal is even a much better player in slow courts. It is really amazing as how the game has evolved over the years and especially the grass courts at Wimbledon. Till 2004 only a good serve and volleyer had a chance at Wimbledon, but things turned different after that and apart from Federer who dominated the event, we had Nadal who too has left his impression on the surface. This edition of Wimbledon will be very interesting and who will be the lucky one to be crowned Champion ? The tennis fans are eager to know.


Swiss Maestro Says:

guess who has lost the most because of these court slow-down? Mr. Roddick.

no wonder tennis is dying in the US of A. you take away the traditional strength of US players = fast courts to favor spannish/south american players.

roddick would have 7/8 slams in the 90s. too bad! oh well…..


Skeezerweezer Says:

@David C

Thanks for that link, great read for us “surfac ‘ers” :)


Nina Says:

Tennis Vagabond Says:
So while Rog and Nole take the week off, Rafa adds doubles. I really don’t understand him and his team. I don’t think his body will hold together through the USO.

Yeah, it’s hard to understand, specially when he complains so much about the lenght of the season and the rest that he needs, playing like a 100 years, bla bla bla…


jane Says:

Good tiebreak from Murray I thought.


stu Says:

Nina and TV – clearly he’s trying to get in the best shape possible for Wimby.


stu Says:

Good win for Muzz over Tipsa. I guess he’s truly “back” then.


margot Says:

Yay! Come on Andy! Looking good and win accomplished rather easily, since H2H with Tipsy was 3-3 prior to this match.
Colin: having had no rain in London for 3 months, Queens is now cold and very damp, explains why courts are playing slower than usual. Indeedy I do remember Timmy and Greg being thought of the forerunners of many :(
However, we do seem to have 3 or 4 quite promising youngsters: Golding, Morgan, Brody and another?


margot Says:

PS Andy achieved his best RG result. How come he lives in the trunk?


Eric Says:

“guess who has lost the most because of these court slow-down? Mr. Roddick.

no wonder tennis is dying in the US of A. you take away the traditional strength of US players = fast courts to favor spannish/south american players.

roddick would have 7/8 slams in the 90s. too bad! oh well…..”

Yeah, he already did. His name was “Pete” back then, though.


margot Says:

PPS Really horrible comments about Andy too. Are they supposed to be funny?
And as for Fed being in there….:(


Eric Says:

The trunk this week is just unusually mean-spirited (which, for TX writers, is saying something). Woz gets to be no. 1 in the trunk just because they think a couple has-been 30 year olds who’ve barely played for a year are going to come tear up the women’s tour, Federer and Murray are in the trunk for improving their Roland Garros best, Masha is in the trunk for pulling from pre-Wimbledon tournament (just like Funk no. 2 Djokovic, who flamed out to Roger and looked like he suddenly had no solutions?, and deserves Funk no. 2 for losing??), and meanwhile Schiavone (who actually, unlike Roger, played poorly in the final) gets a Funk spot… curious indeed. I guess they are just yanking our chains around :)


Kimberly Says:

Uggh, Rafa lost the second set to steps. Don’t really care though. If he doesn’t lose this match i blieeve he will lose the next one.


El Flaco Says:

The very first thing that Wimbledon did to slow things down was reduce the pressure in the balls by something like 3% in the mid 90s so they wouldn’t fly off the racquet quite as fast. They were also planning on slowing down the surface, but that took years of testing before it could be implemented early in the next decade.

Someone posted a stat last year about how serving at the US Open last year was bigger than Wimby. They gave data for fastest serve and average 1st serve speed for different players. They were all faster at the US Open because the balls are a little livelier. The speed of serve is measured before it hits the surface so this data does not tell you the overall effectiveness of the serve at Wimby vs US Open.


Eric Says:

Kimberly, part of me suspects Rafa has gifted Stepanek that set in order to practice coming from behind… how else to explain so many double faults from Rafa? :/


El Flaco Says:

Nadal also has a doubles match today although I don’t know if they will be able to finish tonight if they don’t have lights.


jane Says:

Flying leap picture on Murray on ATP site is very cool ;)

Kimberly, Rafa will win anyhow, likely with a bagel by the looks of it right now. The commentators I am listening to say they don’t think Rafa will bust a gut to win this event; rather, he is in it for some tuning.

Does the winner of Queens win Wimbledon very often I wonder? I know Rafa won Queens in 08 and went on to win SW19. Curious as to whether or not these lead in grass events are a determiner of the winner of Wimbledon more often than not. I remember Fed didn’t play Halle in 2009 but won the grass slam anyhow. Hmm. i suppose there are plenty of factors…main one being form. But getting used to the surface must figure in there. I kind of wish Djoko were playing, even if he lost after a couple rounds or whatever. Ho hum, anyhow…


Eric Says:

I take it back… Rafa is just playing like crap. So many errors…


Polo Says:

Nadal always manages to win. His only nemesis at this time is Novak.


Eric Says:

Only Rafa can win a set 6-1 while playing this abysmally…


Eric Says:

Only Rafa can win a set 6-1 while playing this abysmally…


jane Says:

A breadstick instead of a bagel then.


marrisv Says:

Wow… Looks like nadal is back on court for the doubles after a 2:25 min singles match that finished 20 minutes back…

Why is he not pulling out of the doubles?


Eric Says:

Probably because doubles is not remotely tiring, but still offers good match practice and grass movement adjustment.


Eric Says:

And because that would screw over his partner and friend, which, upon reflection, Rafa probably cares a lot more about than he does about winning Queens.


Eric Says:

Also, Rafa always plays doubles at Queens, doesn’t he? I suspect it’s because he wants as much time out on the grass in real match conditions as he can get. If you were watching his match today you’d have seen that he is still moving kind of poorly on it… although Stepanek fell a lot more. :P


jane Says:

Bellucci bagels Cilic. Ward and Sam on serve in set one.


Eric Says:

Meanwhile, Woz has dropped her serve three times in one set to some German no-one (A Kerber?) and is now in a tiebreak after losing a set point on her own serve…


marrisv Says:

Eric – I agree that he wants to help Marc with the doubles..


jane Says:

Nice to see Cilic rebound from the bagel and win the match. He needs to get something going to salvage this season; it’s only half over, so there is time.


Kimberly Says:

Kimberly, part of me suspects Rafa has gifted Stepanek that set in order to practice coming from behind… how else to explain so many double faults from Rafa? :/

The double faults are probably because he is going to try a different serve? Doesn’t he always serve low percentage and like crap like in Toronto and Cincy when he is toying with adjustments in his serve.

Five matches is enough (3 singles 2 doubles). I seriously don’t care if he loses this. He should go home and schedule two exhibitions the week before the tournament.


Colin Says:

Holy grasscourts, batman! World No 216 Ward took the second set from Sam Q. Unfortunately the rain then stopped play, so there goes any momentum Ward had. Ah, well…


dari Says:

More fun side of Murray in this interview
http://www.shortlist.com/entertainment/sport/andy-murray#image-rotator-2
BTW, did anyone watch his match today? How’s ankle and the rest? Saw pic of his diving shot, did he win the point?! :)


margot Says:

dari: Andy looks fine :) Can’t remember shot, he makes so many spectaculars ;)


dari Says:

Thx margot. Looks like they’re playing again! I catch a bit of AndyR now, its on the TV, I can’t believe it.


stu Says:

What a fun Andy interview, thanks dari :)


stu Says:

:O James Ward beat Sam Querrey, even after Sam had a night to think over his strategy?!!


Kimberly Says:

i don’t even know who James Ward is. Querrey showed so much promise last spring and just downward spiral since.


Kimberly Says:

Cilic, Verdasco, Davydenko Querrey Almagro can usually be counted on to disappoint.

Top story: Toronto Draw Preview: Djokovic Gets Murray In His Quarter, Federer's In The Trees
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ATP - Jul 28 WTA - Jul 28
1 Novak Djokovic1 Serena Williams
2 Rafael Nadal2 Na Li
3 Roger Federer3 Simona Halep
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6 David Ferrer6 Maria Sharapova
7 Milos Raonic7 Eugenie Bouchard
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