Day 1 at The Boodles: Tennis talent shines on a sun-filled day one at The Boodles
A glorious first day at Stoke Park kicked off with former world no. 1 Victoria Azarenka facing world no. 93 Andrea Petkovic.
Both players contributed to some great moments on Stadium Court, but it was former top ten player Petkovic who was the more consistent on the day to triumph 61 63.
The German's best results at a Grand Slam have come on Parisian clay, but Petkovic is becoming accustomed to the lawns.
“I normally wasn't very fond of grass, but I've learned to love it and embrace it,”
she said. “And I think my game is actually suited to it well – I just need a few little adjustments.”
Prior to this month, Azarenka had not competed on grass since 2015, and the Belarussian is enjoying the opportunity presented by The Boodles.
“I need some matches to play and I'm not playing a tournament this week, so it's good for me to just get some play in before Wimbledon,”
the current world no. 87 said.
This is the first time that Azarenka has travelled to the UK with Leo, her infant son.
“It's really great, it's a beautiful place here and Wimbledon is also awesome for the kids,”
Azarenka shared. “So I'm very happy that he's with me and travelling. He's definitely enjoying his time.”
Former Wimbledon semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov continued his Wimbledon preparations by duelling rising teenager Stefanos Tsitsipas in an entertaining collision. The Bulgarian had to come from behind in the first set tiebreak before clinching a straight sets win 76(4) 61.
“The set-up is great,”
the Bulgarian said. “You have a great court, and courts to practice on, great facilities overall. And I think it's good to come a little bit earlier, just prepare for Wimbledon and take it easy.”
Of the big event, he added: “I've always been a fan of Wimbledon, I've done well there before. But right now it's just important for me to enjoy it, play each match as it comes and hopefully things will get better for me. Hopefully things are shaping up for me.”
Tsitsipas, who was ranked world no. 190 this time last season, has rocketed up to a career-high ranking of world no. 35 after truly announcing himself on the ATP tour this year.
“To me, I'm just another player who is having good results,”
the Greek no. 1 said. “The most important thing for me now is just to stay humble and keep on doing what I'm doing.”
He continued: “Of course, people are a bit more demanding and expect more from me now. But it's gonna come at some point, for sure, so I just need to keep on working and wait for the right time.”
A US Open finalist last season, Kevin Anderson has been enjoying the best form of his career over the past 12 months. The South African unleashed plenty of big serves and volleys to dispatch world no. 16 Fabio Fognini in straightforward fashion on Tuesday afternoon 61 62
“It's great playing in match conditions, with linesmen, umpire, great spectators,”
Anderson reflected. “And then it's obviously very beautiful being out here, and I think everybody has a great time.”
His rise to world no. 8 has affected Anderson's mindset heading into the season's next Grand Slam event.
“At the back of your mind, you have expectations, and I think those have changed for me,”
the South African revealed. “I think they match your belief, and I really feel going into this tournament that I want to be there on championship Sunday. I've got a lot of tennis to get through before then – I'd have to better my personal best of round of 16, so a mini goal is to be making it through to the quarters.”
Clay-court loving Fognini's outlook is a sharp contrast.
“I have no expectations for Wimbledon, to be honest, because after Paris... when I was coming here I was still sick a little bit,”
the Italian shared. “I'm not fully recovered at the moment, so I need to relax and get ready for the next match.”
The final clash of the day saw home player Liam Broady outlast Benoit Paire in a third-set match tiebreak.
“It was good fun today,”
the Brit enthused. “It's tough to get a rhythm against a guy like that. He's got a big serve, some fantastic hands and he executes some amazing shots, so I always tried to stay focussed and enjoy the atmosphere out there.”
Broady has received a wildcard into singles action at Wimbledon, and also into the doubles draw alongside countryman Scott Clayton.
“I'm just going to go into Wimbledon the same way I go into any other tournament,”
he shared. “Obviously the competitions really tough, everyone's there for a reason. And I'll just go in there and give it all I've got and see what I can get.”
Despite losing the match Paire enjoyed his return to The Boodles:
"I enjoyed it a lot. I was hear last year and I enjoyed this preparation for Wimbledon. The crowd is crazy and I like it. It was a good match against Liam, I played well on grass and I'm really happy about the game."
Results - Tuesday 26th June 2018
Andrea Petkovic (GER) d. Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 6-1 6-3
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) d. Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) 7-6(4) 6-1
Kevin Anderson (RSA) d. Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-1 6-2
Liam Broady (GBR) d. Benoit Paire (FRA) 7-6 3-6 10-7
Order of Play (UPDATED) Day 2 - Wednesday 27th June 2018 - 12.30pm Start
Liam Broady (GBR) v Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR)
Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) v Taylor Fritz (USA)
Nick Kyrgios (AUS) v Sam Querrey (USA)
not before 5pm
Marcus Willis (GBR) v Malek Jaziri (TUN)