Surbiton | Back on the grass in Berrylands
The lawns are trimmed, the lines are painted and the players have arrived. The grass-court season is set to commence on the ATP Challenger Tour.
The sweet smell of freshly manicured grass is in the air at the Surbiton Racket & Fitness Club, as three weeks of high-octane, fast-paced tennis begins in the London suburb of Surbiton.
For the fourth straight year and 15th overall, the Challenger circuit returns to the historic 137-year-old club.
The facility was founded in 1881 and hosted the prestigious Surrey Grass Court Championships for 70 editions.
While today’s top players continue to grind on the clay courts of Roland Garros, there is plenty of star power gliding on the pristine laws of the Surbiton Trophy.
The Aussies are out in force, with second seed Jordan Thompson and Thanasi Kokkinakis joining #NextGenATP stars Alex de Minaur and Marc Polmans.
Past champion (2015) Matthew Ebden is looking to come through qualifying, while Lleyton Hewitt and Nick Kyrgios are sure to draw crowds in the doubles – Hewitt, playing with Alex Bolt, and Kyrgios, teaming up with Daniel Evans, were given wild cards into the €127,000 event.
The former World No 1 is returning to Surbiton on the 20th anniversary of his first professional grass-court match, which took place at the inaugural edition in 1998.
Top seed Jeremy Chardy is also joined by British teen Jay Clarke, Alexander Bublik, Yuki Bhambri and recent Seoul champ Mackenzie McDonald.
Chardy, Thomas Fabbiano and Sergiy Stakhovsky are making quick transitions from clay to grass after registering second-round results at Roland Garros, while Taylor Fritz is the top seed in qualifying.
Past champions in Surbiton include former Top 10 stars Mardy Fish (2006) and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (2007), with Roger Federer, Andy Roddick, Greg Rusedski and Thomas Johansson also competing there.
Last year, Japan’s Yuichi Sugita became the first player to win grass-court titles on both the ATP Challenger Tour and ATP World Tour in a single season. After winning in Surbiton, he lifted his maiden tour-level trophy in Antalya.
Following Surbiton, the swing proceeds to northern England for the Nature Valley Open in Nottingham, before concluding at the scenic Ilkley Trophy.