Rafael Nadal kicked started a jam-packed summer of tennis with a record breaking seventh French Open Title at Roland Garros last weekend, and as Wimbledon edges ever closer the stars are heading to Eastbourne for final preparations.
The Aegon International at Devonshire Park in Eastbourne is a tournament growing in stature every year. This year has attracted yet more big names to the South Coast as the stars put the final touches to their game ahead of The Championships at the All England Club.
Marion Bartoli returns to defend the title she won last year and is joined in the women’s draw by reigning Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitova and former World Number Ones Ana ivanovic and Caroline Wozniacki.
Newly crowned British Number One, Anne Keothavong has been handed a wildcard for the tournament as have fellow Brits, Heather Watson, Jamie Baker and James Ward. A further eight British Ladies will attempt to book their place in the first round proper as they enter qualifying today including Elena Baltacha and the 2008 Wimbledon Girls Champion, Laura Robson.
The organisers have completed a major coup by offering big-serving American, Andy Roddick a wildcard to the men’s draw after an early exit at the Queens Club Championship this week. The former World Number One has a fantastic grass court pedigree and is a three time Wimbledon Finalist, most recently losing in a five-set epic to Roger Federer in 2009.
Roddick joins the likes of Marcos Baghdatis, Richard Gasquet and 2011 champion, Andreas Seppi in the men’s singles.
Entry is free to see the qualifiers on Saturday, with seating unreserved in Centre Court and Court No.1, and many of the biggest names will be out on the practice courts ahead of the start of the first round on Monday. On Sunday a special Father’s Day Legends event featuring the likes of Martina Hingis and Greg Rusedski will take place, and next Thrusday and Friday the Great Britain juniors will take on their US counterparts in a matchup that will take place alongside the main tournaments.
We’ll be reporting live from Devonshire Park all week. Follow @SQMagazine on Twitter for the major news and views from the tournament.
Gates open every day at 10am. Play starts 11am every day (subject to alteration), except 10.30am on Saturday 16 June and 12 noon on Saturday 23 June.