STOKE PARK, June 29, 2018
America’s Sam Querrey knows a thing or two about playing on grass-courts, having defeated Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon in 2016 and Andy Murray just last year. The world no. 13 headlined a blazing day four of The Boodles at Stoke Park.
Local star Marcus Willis was first onto court on Friday, taking on Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas: ranked 801 spots above the Brit in the rankings.
Willis has spent much of the year battling with injury, but he approached the net and put on a show against world no. 37 Ramos-Vinolas – whose own skills assisted him to a 4-6, 6-3, 11-9 victory.
“Two matches played is good preparation for Wimbledon, because I haven’t played any tournaments on grass this year,” the Spaniard said.
The Wimbledon men’s singles draw was revealed on Friday morning, and Ramos-Vinolas is set to face French qualifier Stephane Robert.
“I haven’t seen my draw yet,” the Spaniard shared. “I’ll just try to be ready. I was three weeks off with a little bit of problems in the wrist, so for me this year the most important thing is to feel good on court and try to do my best, as always.”
Querrey beats Paire
Both Sam Querrey and Benoit Paire were also playing in their second matches at The Boodles when they squared off in the afternoon sunshine. The ever-entertaining Paire got the crowd behind him with some top drawer showmanship, but it was Querrey’s steadier game that resulted in him bagging a straight sets victory 6-2, 7-6(5).
The American, 30, says that his recent Wimbledon results are not piling on the pressure.
“If anything it gives me a little more confidence,” he shared. “And hopefully I can take that into the tournament.”
He added: “I approach the Grand Slams the same way I approach other tournaments, but there’s a different feeling. They definitely feel bigger and grander, and there’s a little more on the line. You’re definitely kind of up for it a little more.”
Paire has been plunged into the national spotlight after drawing two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray in round one at SW19.
“Of course it’s unlucky to play against Andy Murray in a Wimbledon first round,” the world no. 48 said. “But I’m not seeded, so I knew I could play anybody. So yeah, it will be tough, he beat me last year. If he comes on court it [will be] because he’s 100 percent, so it will be tough, but with the confidence of last week… I had two match points against Federer, so I know I can beat him.”
Murray defeated Paire in the fourth round at SW19 last season, before falling to Querrey in the last eight.
“For sure, that’s extra motivation,” Paire confessed. “The bad thing is that it’s in the first round this year, but you never know… he just came back, and me, I have a lot of confidence. A lot of things changed since last year.
“He has played only three matches, so it will be tough for him but tough for me, too. And if I can win, I will be really really happy.”
Tsitsipas eases past Ward
Great Britain’s James Ward fell in the final round of Wimbledon qualifying on Thursday, but the 31-year-old still made the trip to Stoke Park on Friday. His opponent, 19-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas, was playing in his third match of the week, and he came through a close first set before scooping up a 7-5, 6-1 win.
Tsitsipas will be seeded at a Grand Slam for the first time at Wimbledon, and opens against qualifier Gregoire Barrere.
“It’s definitely going to be a very tricky start,” the Greek no. 1 said. “The qualifiers are warmed up, they are much more prepared than you and they have played three matches before, so it’s always tricky to play qualifiers. I need to be 100 percent alert and ready for this match.”
He continued: “I’ll try to have a day off tomorrow and be physically ready and mentally strong for it. My expectation for next week is to play good tennis, but my main goal is to reach the round of 16.”
Ward is happy to be back competing regularly after a couple of years of injury turmoil.
“I wouldn’t have gone through the surgery and the long rehab if I didn’t want to get back to the level I was at before,” the former world no. 89 shared. “I believe I can get back there. My tennis isn’t the issue, it’s just staying healthy and getting back.”
He added: “Staying healthy is a main priority for the rest of the year. Everything’s a bonus for me at the moment.”
In the final match of the day, world no. 92 Radu Albot came back from 4-1 down in the deciding set to outlast Australian Open boys’ champion Sebastian Korda 6-3, 6-4 on Stadium Court.
“Everybody said this is a good event, and that they like it and want to come back,” Albot said. “I am here for the first time, and I also would like to come back.”
The Moldovan is set to face no. 20 seed Pablo Carreno Busta in the Wimbledon first round.
“I know Carreno Busta. I played him once – I lost in the Challenger finals against him,” Albot recalled. “A very good player, he’s been top ten. He’s playing very good overall on all the surfaces. Hopefully I can have a good match.”
Korda, 17, will be playing in the Wimbledon boys’ event this year – where he made the second round last year, after playing on grass for the first time at The Boodles.
“This is my last year of juniors, so I just want to have fun and enjoy it,” he shared. “I always go in thinking I can win the tournament – especially when it’s a junior tournament, and having won in Australia, as well. So I’m just gonna go out there and have fun.”
The Boodles – Results – Friday 29 June
Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) d. Marcus Willis (GBR) 4-6 6-3 11-9
Sam Querrey (USA) d. Benoit Paire (FRA) 6-2 7-6(5)
Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) d. James Ward (GBR) 7-5 6-1
Radu Albot (MDA) d. Sebastian Korda (USA) 6-3 6-4
The Boodles – Order of Play – Saturday 30 June
Marcus Willis (GBR) v Liam Broady (GBR)
Andreas Seppi (ITA) v Bernard Tomic (AUS)
Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) v Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS)
not before 5pm
James Ward (GBR) v Vasek Pospisil (CAN)