The last week or two has seen player announcements for the 2015 grass court tennis tournaments. As a Brit, I always follow updates with excitement and this year is particularly interesting with an extra week added to the grass court season. For the WTA, Birmingham has sealed the lucrative middle week, while Eastbourne remains the week before Wimbledon (but one week later). s’Hertogenbosch moves to the week directly after the French Open along as well as a new International tournament in Nottingham. For the ATP, Queens and Halle have both been bumped up to ATP 500 events and will be in the middle week. Stuttgart and s’Hertogenbosch will be in the first week and the ATP draw that was previously in Eastbourne will move to Nottingham in the final week before Wimbledon.
For the women, Eastbourne has yet to make any player announcements. It’s always the same every year… I remember a few years back when the only player they announced before the release of the full entry list was Sara Errani. British Tennis has tweeted that player announcements are due shortly so I wait with baited breath. This year will be interesting to see whether Birmingham attracts a better line-up than Eastbourne. Considering their placements in the calendar, Birmingham should have the more attractive line-up. Caroline Wozniacki appears to have made that switch based on the schedule that appears on her official website. I’m disappointed that Eastbourne didn’t get the middle week because I believe that the venue has much better facilities compared to Birmingham and it is well-liked by the players. I’m hoping that the line-up hasn’t suffered too much and Petra Kvitova will still be at Devonshire Park. She played Eastbourne both times when she won Wimbledon so…
There is no ATP draw at Eastbourne this year and the WTA will now have a 48-player draw. There will be an extra round with third round matches set to be played on the Wednesday and the final still on Saturday. If my calculations are correct, I believe that the top 16 players in Eastbourne will ALL have byes in the first rounds. There are exciting times ahead for the Aegon International with plans in place to improve the tennis facilities at Devonshire Park including the construction of a new show court ready for the tournament in 2020. For the full article see HERE.
Birmingham has already confirmed that the defending champion, Ana Ivanovic will be returning this year (see press release HERE). From schedules on official websites, Taylor Townsend is also heading to Brum and Nottingham too. I’m fascinated to see whether Birmingham manage to get a Serena, Maria, Simona or Venus. Sharapova has played Birmingham before and i’d fancy her to be the most likely of the four names mentioned to turn up. Ticket prices are on the rise so i’m expecting big things from the entry list!
In the other WTA tournaments, Heather Watson is the only confirmed name for the new WTA International event in Nottingham (see press release HERE). I’d expect Heather to play all three UK tournaments. In the only WTA tournament outside of the UK, s’Hertogenbosch has been moved to the first week. They have already confirmed that Jelena Jankovic is set to play.
For the ATP tournaments, the biggest announcements so far have come from Queens where Rafael Nadal confirmed his attendance this week. It was an unsurprising move following a couple of disappointing years in Halle. Last year, he lost to Dustin Brown in one of the craziest ATP matches I watched all year. Previously, Nadal had explained the decision to play Halle over Queens due to UK tax demands, although the hefty appearance fees offered in Halle must have been nice.
Nadal will be joined at Queens by Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Grigor Dimitrov, Marin Cilic and Lleyton Hewitt. I’m intrigued to see if Novak Djokovic plays a warm-up tournament and if he does, I imagine it will be Queens. Djokovic hasn’t played Queens since 2010. Another change this year is that Queens will have a 32-player draw with no byes…
I’m not quite sure why they would go to a 32-player draw, but it will certainly provide some high quality matches early on. I’d like to go to an ATP tournament this year, but the ticket prices and general atmosphere at Queens have always put me off in the past. For the last four days of the tournament, ticket prices are generally in excess of £100 and the cheapest ticket for Centre Court throughout the whole tournament is £55… that’s a lot of money!
As to be expected, Roger Federer will be in Halle again. The tournament has also nabbed Tomas Berdych, who has played Queens for the last two years. Other players already confirmed for Halle are Kei Nishikori, Gael Monfils, Phillipp Kohlschreiber, Mikhail Youzhny and Tommy Haas. For the first week of the grass court season, Lleyton Hewitt has committed to the 250 event in s’Hertogenbosch (see press release HERE). The newly converted grass court tournament in Stuttgart have already comfirmed Marin Cilic, Tommy Haas, Feliciano Lopez and Marcos Baghdatis on their entry list (see press release HERE). Lopez has also been confirmed for the tournament in Nottingham along with James Ward (see press release HERE).
I’ll be posting regular updates on the player announcements for the grass court season with full entry lists expected in May. I’ve bought my tickets for the Aegon International in Eastbourne and will be at Devonshire Park between Sunday and Tuesday. As ever, it’s my aim to get some interesting content up on Moo’s Tennis Blog including plenty of photos!
Sources: Information from Halle tournament website HERE, s’Hertogenbosch tournament website HERE, Queens tournament website HERE, Birmingham tournament website HERE, Eastbourne tournament website HERE, Nottingham tournament website HERE, Stuttgart tournament website HERE, Men’s Tennis Forums and Women’s Tennis Forums.
This post has been edited to correct the line-up of WTA and ATP players for s’Hertogenbosch