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The Aegon Championships, held in London, is seen as one of the big pre-Wimbledon warm up tournaments. It is hosted by the famous Queen’s Club and as it is only one of five grass court tournaments which are played on the season, players see it as a vital preparation ahead of the Grand Slam task at SW19. There is not a lot of time to make the tricky transition from the busy clay court swing of the season to grass, where the speed of the game changes dramatically. This is only an ATP World Tour 250 event, the lowest ranking tier of tournament on the ATP Tour, but that hasn’t stopped it being immensely popular.
The history of the tournament stretches all the way back to 1979, and it goes to show how much of a primer it is ahead of Wimbledon, because seven different players have managed to go on and complete a double in the same year by winning at the Queen’s Club and then going on to lift the Grand Slam title at Wimbledon. The most recent man to to do that was Britain’s very own Andy Murray, who naturally was a hugely popular winner, as he completed the double in 2013, joining an elite club which includes the likes of greats John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Boris Becker and Rafael Nadal.
Murray, took the title at Queen’s Club last year, for the third time in his career. The win came over Marin Cilic, which added to his titles there in 2009 and 2011. After a good run to the French Open semi final, in which he was frustrated in his semi final appearance against Rafael Nadal, losing in less than two hours against the King of Clay, Murray heads back to the familiar territory of the grass courts on London with a 19-4 event record. He will be heading up firm favouritism in the outright winner market again this year.
Marin Cilic is back to compete again at the Queen’s Club and he has a pretty decent record at the event. The Croatian star lifted the title in 2012 and made a run back to the final of the 2013 edition as well, being stopped by Murray there. Cilic holds a 16-5 record at the event and should make a decent each way wager for many in the draw. Cilic has won two titles from three ATP Tour finals this season, taking the Zagreb and Delray Beach titles. His clay court swing of the season was nothing to write home about, but he should make his presence well known back on grass.
Czech star Tomas Berdych will be attempting Queen’s again after making a run to the quarter finals in 2013. He finally snapped a long stretch without a title, which extended to nearly a year and a half, with a win in Rotterdam this season. The World Number six will go as second seed at Queen’s this year and has a bit of grass history after his big run to the Wimbledon final back in 2010 when he lost to Rafael Nadal.
2011 Queen’s Club finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will be back for the fifth time, and the Frenchman usually puts in some solid performances at the tournament. After losing to Andy Murray in the 2011 final, he was again stopped by the Briton last year when they clashed in the semi final. Former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro is scheduled for an appearance and looking to go better than his quarter final exit last year. Young Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, a semi-finalist here two years ago has continued his rise since then, and will be closing in on a spot in the top ten in the world.