With all British interest over at the French Open, attention will now be drawn towards the grass season as players look to get into shape ahead of Wimbledon. The main draws of the Fuzion 100 Surbiton Trophy have been made and an intriguing week lies ahead for British tennis fans. Let’s take a look at some of the stories we could see unfold before our eyes.
Changing of the guard in women’s tennis?
The notable round one match sees top seed – and last year’s beaten finalist – Heather Watson take on Gabi Taylor. It’s no secret that Watson has struggled to recapture the form that saw her reach the semi-finals in Eastbourne and push Victoria Azarenka on Centre Court at Wimbledon last season. As top seed and with lots of points to defend, the pressure will be on the Guernsey star to progress in Surbiton.
Her first round opponent, Gabi Taylor, has been the breakthrough British star this year. With three ITF titles in the bag, Taylor made a lightning start to her season and will be looking to show why she deserves to be talked about in the British press. Taylor will have no pressure, having fallen in the first round last year, but will be hoping to get her grass season off to a winning start against Watson. If she were to win, it would send shockwaves around British tennis as the first signs that we are likely to see new challengers for the British number two spot.
Elsewhere in the draw, both Tara Moore (wild card) and Harriet Dart, who reached the semi-finals last year, face qualifiers, while there will be a second all-British clash between Katy Dunne and wild card Jodie Anna Burrage. Katie Boulter, another high hope for the future of British tennis, opens her campaign against American Kristie Ahn, and Katie Swan will face seventh seed Arina Rodionova.
With a high quality field, which also includes Madison Brengle, Alison Riske and Yanina Wickmayer, fans can expect an excellent standard of tennis again for the first grass tournament of the year.
All eyes on Kyrgios and Hewitt in the doubles
Over on the men’s side and the focus is likely to be on the doubles draw. And while Nick Kyrgios has surprised many by entering the tournament with partner Jackson Withrow of the USA, it will be perhaps another Australian that will draw all the media’s attention.
Former Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt has received a wild card alongside Alex Bolt, and their first round match against Marcus Willis and Jay Clarke looks like an absolute cracker on paper. Willis and Clarke wowed the Wimbledon crowds last year, defeating defending champions Mahut and Herbert on their way to the third round, and will be looking to impress again as they look to earn another main draw Wimbledon wild card.
The Skupski brothers will be ranked fourth when play starts on Monday, while there is also British interest in the pairings of Liam Broady and Scott Clayton; Luke Bambridge and Jonny O’Mara; and Joe Salisbury and Adil Shamasdin.
Brits face tough draws in men’s singles
The men’s singles draw of the ATP Challenger event has brought up some tricky ties for the British hopefuls. Liam Broady will face top seed Jeremy Chardy and has an almighty challenge to pull off an upset on home soil. The Frenchman has defeated the likes of Grigor Dimitrov, Tomas Berdych and Richard Gasquet already this season and surely goes into the main draw as hot favourite.
Alex Ward, who qualified for the main draw of Wimbledon last year, will also be up against it as he faces exciting Australian Alex de Minaur. Jay Clarke takes on Alex Bolt, who has an excellent record on the British Challenger circuit, while James Ward takes on one-time Roger Federer conquerer Sergiy Stakhovsky. Lloyd Glasspool, who received a slightly surprising wild card, takes on a qualifier.
Like the women’s draw, the men’s field is looking strong with last year’s beaten finalist Jordan Thompson, crowd pleaser Dustin Brown and former Wimbledon quarter finalist Mikhail Youzhny in the main draw. We are also guaranteed a British qualifier, with one of Dan Evans, Neil Pauffley, Jack Molloy and Ed Corrie guaranteed a place in the main draw.