Don’t blink or you’ll miss it! The grass court season flies by like an Ivo Karlovic service game. It lasts roughly a month – from June 8 to July 12 – if you bother to count the ATP’s Campbell’s Hall of Fame tournament after Wimbledon.
So here’s my best summary of what to expect, including the unexpected.
No. 1 thing to know: Wimbledon a.k.a. The Championships a.k.a. SW19 runs from Monday, June 22 – Sunday, July 5.
No. 2 thing to know: The Wimbledon draw ceremony will be this Friday, June, 19 at 10 a.m local time, and you can listen to it here.
No. 3 thing to know: None of the 2008 Wimbledon finalists – Federer, Nadal, Serena or Venus – are playing a grass court event prior to Wimbledon this year.
While this marks a change in scheduling for Rafa and Roger, who both won their Wimby tune-ups last year in London and Halle, respectively, neither Williams sister played on grass last season before Wimbledon. In fact, 3 of the 4 other 2008 Wimbledon semifinalists either didn’t play a grass court tune-up (Zheng) or crashed out of their events by the second round (Safin, Scheuttler.) Dementieva made it to the semis of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, but Elena is nothing if not consistently almost-there.
Everything else you need to know (for now): Even though the grass court tune-ups might not be useful in predicting Wimbledon results, it’s still a blast to watch tennis played on the turf. Here’s what’s in store for this weekend and beyond.
ATP: AEGON Championships at the Queen’s Club, London
This weekend’s semis: Andy Murray vs. Juan Carlos Ferrero and James Blake vs. Andy Roddick (4 time champ)
Mojo alert: Last year’s runner up to Rafa, Novak Djokjovic, was knocked out of the second round of Wimbledon by Marat Safin.
Click here for the Queen’s Club website.
ATP: Gerry Weber Open in Halle
This weekend’s semis: Philipp Kohlschreiber vs.Tommy Haas and Olivier Rochus vs. Novak Djokovic.
Mojo alert: Kohlschreiber, last year’s Halle runner up, faced a fate similar to Nole’s at Wimbledon, going out in the first round to Fernando Verdasco.
Click here for the Halle website.
Look out: Will this week’s runners up stand a chance at SW19?
WTA: Birmingham/AEGON Classic
This weekend’s semis: Maria Sharapova vs. Li Na and Magdalena Rybarikova vs. Sania Mirza.
In terms of possible Wimbledon mojo on the WTA side, neither of last year’s finalists, Kateryna Bondarenko or Yanina Wickmayer, made it past the second round of Wimbledon in ’08. Next week’s Eastbourne event features more top ten talent, and will be more telling. It’s also worth noting that Sharapova has continued to show impressive fight in her comeback from injury, and that she’s won Birmingham twice, including in 2004 when she went on to win Wimbledon.
Click here for the Birmingham website.
Next week we’ll have more alphabet soup, with two ATP/WTA combined events: the AEGON International/Eastbourne in England (a WTA Premier level tournament) and Ordina Open/‘s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands. (Yes, there are a ton of tournaments named AEGON something-or-other, because the company is the LTA’s “lead partner.”)
Tennis Channel is showing Queen’s Club on television this weekend. Click here for the schedule.