Day one of The Boodles 2014
Sparkling champagne, sparkling sunshine and sparkling tennis...
Bathed in warm sunshine, the French Open semi-finalist, Ernests Gulbis opened his pre-Wimbledon warm up with a straight sets victory over the big serving Canadian, Milos Raonic, 7-6 (3) 7-6 (5).
This is the second time Gulbis has used The Boodles to prepare for The Championships.
" I like to return to the Boodles because it is a great practice time for Wimbledon. We don't get a lot of hitting time there, so here its really good - you have as many hours as you want before match, after match, during match. The grass courts here are good."
Next to take the court was the young Austrian, Dominic Thiem who has enjoyed a breakthrough season and now sits at 56 in the world. Thiem came up against a formidable opponent in South Africa's Kevin Anderson losing in straight sets 6-4, 7-6 (7).
Thiem was still impressed with his first time on the lush Stoke Park grass-courts.
"I was a spectator here 2 years ago, so its not really my first time to The Boodles. Its an amazing event, these kind of events only happen in America and Great Britain so it was an honour for me to play."
Anderson was delighted to be back at Stoke Park after an absence of five years:
"Its great to be back here at The Boodles, I played here in 2008 so it was quite a number of years ago so I was really happy to get the invite back this year. I think its a great week of being able to prepare for Wimbledon, getting out here and playing a match in match-like conditions. Sometimes its pretty hard to come by practice courts on the grass and I get the best of both worlds of playing a match but also taking it easier and not having to travel this week"
The final match of the opening day was an all American affair between John Isner and 21 year old Jack Sock.
In fading light, the match went to a Champions tie break, with Sock winning 12-10. Despite the loss Isner was in a positive frame of mind ahead of Wimbledon:
"So far so good in my preparations for Wimbledon. It's one of my favourite times of the year, it's a special tournament. For me, I've actually never done too well there, but I know I can do well so I'm going to try to do it this year.
The grass courts here are very similar to Wimbledon so that's very important, that's why you see a lot of very good players playing this event every year.
This place is beautiful, people are great. It's great practice the week before Wimbledon. I always enjoy my time here, it's one of the reasons I've been back here for three years."
Wednesday 18th June - 2.30pm
Milos Raonic (CAN) v Robin Haase (NED)
Fabio Fognini (ITA) v Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER)
followed by (not before 5pm)
Kevin Anderson (RSA) v Jack Sock (USA)