Welcome to (Wimbledon) London
The tune-up tournaments approached conclusion in Eastbourne and Antalya while the seedings for The Championships were announced in London. As the only Grandslam that uses its own peculiar formula for placing players in specific spots of the Draws, Wimbledon generates debates every year by its jettisoning of current player rankings. The Committee of Management in Wimbledon reserves the right to accord recognition to a player’s records in grass-court events played just before the zenith of tennis events. This year, the harvest of upsets in Antalya Turkey and Eastbourne England added to the controversy.
The storm in Eastbourne came from the Ladies’ event. French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko drew a bye in the first round, then struggled to defeat Carla Suarez Navarro in three sets before losing to Johanna Konta in three sets. Germany’s Angelique Kerber survived an upset in the third round but succumbed in the quarter-finals to Konta in straight sets. It was a similar tale with Simona Halep who won the first set 7/5 but lost the match to Caroline Wozniacki. Pliskova is the highest ranked player remaining tournament and had not lost a set until a tie break in her quarter-final victory over the veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia.
Andy Murray was the defending champion in the London Aegon international but lost in the first round to Australia’s Jordan Thompson. The second seed, Stan Warwinka of Poland) was defeated by the eventual winner, Feliciano Lopez of Spain. Canada’s Milos Raonic, the third seed, lost to a Wild Card entrant, Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia.
In Antalya, the first spanner thrown at the system was the upset of the tournament’s top seed Dominic Thiem by the uprising player from Chennai India, Ramkumar Ramanathan, ranked 222 in the world. His progress was halted by Marcos Baghdatis in a close encounter. Ram won the first set tie break by seven points to zero, dropped the second 3-6 and lost the third set tie break points to 6.
Yuichi Sugita reached the finals of Antalya by his victory over Marcos Baghdatis. The Japanese won the first set 6-3, almost won the second but lost a tiebreak (9 points to 7) and was leading 4-1 in the decider when the Cypriot retired. In an impressive run, Yuichi had defeated Matthew Ebden (a qualifier from Australia) in the first round, outlasted the strong man from Spain, David Ferrer the 6/3; 3/6; 7/6 and dismissed David Altmaier 6/3; 6-0 in the quarter-finals. The German had played two successive three-set matches before the encounter.
The highlight of preparation for this year’s Championships has come from a tournament whose venue was inspired by Wimbledon. The Arena at the Kaya Palazzo Hotel Resort Antalya Turkey (consisting of seven grass courts) was constructed under the supervision of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. The event made its debut on the ATP Tour Calendar this year. That scenic site on the Mediterranean unveiled two players from Asia: Ramkumar Ramanathan of India and Yuichi Sugita from Japan.
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