STOKE PARK, June 28, 2018
World no. 3 Alexander Zverev and two-time Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka headlined the action on another gorgeous day at Stoke Park on Thursday.
Former world no. 1 Victoria Azarenka was the first winner of the day, competing in her second match at The Boodles this week. The two-time Australian Open champion came out firing against Olympic gold medallist Monica Puig to clinch a straight-sets victory.
“I’ve enjoyed The Boodles very much, it was a really fun way to practice and get some matches in,” the Belarussian said. “I didn’t have many matches before Wimbledon, so it was two extra matches against good opponents in a beautiful facility.”
Of the big event at SW19, Azarenka shared: “I’m excited. The most important thing for me is to enjoy myself on the court – it’s been a while since I could play freely and stuff.”
Puig was playing for the first time since missing the French Open with injury.
“It was really nice, it’s a very beautiful place, very nice club, very tranquil,” the 24-year-old enthused. “It was nice to get out of central London, after coming back from eight weeks out with an injury, just getting back into playing is nice.”
She added: “I’m feeling very good going into Wimbledon, better than I expected. This match definitely helped me get a little bit of the jitters and the rust out, and I’m just excited to have the opportunity to compete again.”
Zverev beats Carreno Busta
German star Alexander Zverev and US Open semifinalist Pablo Carreno Busta followed the women onto court, with the former coming out on top of an entertaining 6-4, 6-4 encounter.
Zverev, 21, has developed at lightning pace over the past couple of years, winning three ATP Masters 1000 titles within that time frame, and is focussed heading into Wimbledon.
“I don’t have a set round that I’m happy with,” he shared. “There’s a golden trophy at the end, which I may or may not win this year, but my goal is to win it at one point. So this is what I’m working for, this is what I’m here for, this is why I do extra hours in the gym and extra hours on court.”
Carreno Busta, who broke the top ten for the first time last season, has been playing some of the best tennis of his career in recent times.
“I didn’t play any tournaments on grass for the last two years, because I was injured, so Wimbledon will be my first match in three years on grass,” the Spaniard shared. “I know grass is not my best surface, but I will try my best, and if you try sometimes you win.”
Ramos-Vinolas beats Fognini
Another Spaniard, Albert Ramos-Vinolas, rose victorious in the third match of the day. The world no. 37 needed two sets to come through against Italy’s Fabio Fognini.
“I’m really happy, it’s a good tournament for me here,” Ramos-Vinolas said. “I’ve been a little bit injured since the French Open and I didn’t play for a few weeks, so this is helpful and good preparation.”
He added: “I’m here in the hotel on the site, and me and my team are really relaxed here. We can practice in the gym, we can practice on the practice courts, we can play some matches and have fun on court. We are happy to be here for a third year.”
Fritz wins battle of the NextGens
Two ‘NextGen’ stars closed out play on Stadium Court, with 20-year-old Taylor Fritz getting the better of Stefanos Tsitsipas – the highest-ranked teenager in the world – via a 7-5, 6-3 scoreline.
“I started off just feeling my way a bit, and in the second set I feel I played well,” the American reflected. “It’s great practice for Wimbledon, and I’m happy with the practice and the result.”
He added: “I can take confidence from winning some matches. Winning always helps you win more, I guess! I always enjoy The Boodles, and I look forward to coming back in future years.”
Tsitsipas had knocked up with actor Jason Isaacs – who famously starred as Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter series – prior to the match.
“It was exciting, he’s a fun guy,” the 19-year-old said. “He was very nice and very open to me, he told me a lot of things and I asked him a lot of things.
“I did watch a couple of the Harry Potter movies when I was younger, like nine or ten years old. He’s a good tennis player and I’m pretty sure he’s also a very good actor!”
The Boodles – Results – Thursday 28 June
Victoria Azarenka (BLR) d. Monica Puig (PUR) 6-2 6-2
Alexander Zverev (GER) d. Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) 6-4 6-4
Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) d. Fabio Fognini (ITA) 7-5 6-4
Taylor Fritz (USA) d. Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE)S 7-5 6-3
The Boodles – Order of Play – Thursday 28 June
Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) v Marcus Willis (GBR)
Sam Querrey (USA) v Benoit Paire (FRA)
James Ward (GBR) v Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE)
not before 5pm
Sebastian Korda (USA) v Radu Albot (MDA)