Stan Wawrinka has a big decision to make as he prepares for his first match in the Aegon Championships at Queen’s Club tomorrow against Nick Kyrgios. Should he wear the garish outfit that took him to the French Open title eight days ago or should he give his Wimbledon kit its first public outing of the year?
“I haven’t decided what I’m going to wear here,” the world No 4 said yesterday. “I have some white clothes for Wimbledon, that’s for sure.”
Wawrinka’s kit – in particular his pink checked shorts, which looked like they had been cut out of a tablecloth – caused almost as big a stir at Roland Garros as his tennis.
The 30-year-old Swiss liked the shorts, which have sold out in the shops in the wake of his Paris triumph, but thought the combination with a grey, pink and white shirt was over the top. When he first saw the outfit he asked if he could play in a different shirt, but the manufacturers, Yonex, insisted on their preferred combination.
“When I started to wear them in Monaco [in April], there was a lot of bad press about that, even if I didn’t choose the colours,” Wawrinka smiled. “They just give me what I have to wear. It’s a strange world to see how it has ended up as a funny story, with something nobody likes selling out.”
Wawrinka is making only his third appearance at Queen’s. In 2011 he lost to Britain’s James Ward in the second round; last year he reached the semi-finals before losing to Grigor Dimitrov, the eventual champion.
While all players should benefit from the extra week that has been put into the calendar between the French Open and Wimbledon, Wawrinka is particularly grateful. He was able to go home for three days last week to recover following his exertions in Paris. “It means that I can still play one tournament and have two weeks to practise on grass before Wimbledon,” he said.
He is the second seed in one of the strongest fields assembled at the tournament, with nine of the world’s top 15 players in the line-up. Andy Murray, who plays his opening match tomorrow against Taiwanese qualifier Yen-Hsun Lu, is the top seed and appears to be in the easier half of the draw. Wawrinka, Rafael Nadal and Milos Raonic are all in the bottom half.
The event has been upgraded from a “250” tournament to a “500” – the champion earns 500 ranking points compared with 250 a year ago – and prize money has more than doubled to more than £1.2m. The champion will take home £280,000, nearly five times what Dimitrov earned last summer.
Murray, who won in 2009, 2011 and 2013, will be attempting to join Lleyton Hewitt, who is playing here for the last time, Andy Roddick, Boris Becker and John McEnroe as the only players to win the title four times in the Open era.
“A lot of great players have won here,” Murray said. “When you look at the list, it’s pretty amazing. The fields have always been great. To have won three times here, I feel lucky to have done that. I’ll try to win again this year but it will be an extremely hard tournament to win because of the quick turnaround but also the field. It’s so strong.”
Lu, 31, is the world No 62. He knocked Murray out in the first round of the 2008 Olympics but lost both their subsequent meetings in 2013 at Indian Wells and Wimbledon. If seedings and rankings go according to plan Murray will play Roberto Bautista Agut in the second round, Dimitrov in the quarter-finals, Marin Cilic in the semi-finals and Wawrinka in the final. Bautista Agut meets his fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in today’s opening match.
Amélie Mauresmo, Murray’s coach, will not be with him this week but will team up with him again before Wimbledon. In her absence Jonas Bjorkman will be in charge of the world No 3’s preparations. Murray said he hoped he would benefit from the Swede’s experience as a player who was always aggressive on his return of serve.
“That’s something you see the rewards of on grass maybe more than on a clay court,” Murray said. “It can help everywhere, but if you are being aggressive on the grass with the returns you can get quick points, free points, and it puts a lot more pressure on the server. It’s not as easy to do that on the slower courts. He was a fantastic net player too. He and Amélie were both very good up at the net. I think that’s something he can help me understand better.”
With Kyle Edmund pulling out with an abdominal injury, Ward is the only other British player in the field. The world No 108 has a tough first-round match today against Raonic.
The opening day’s programme also sees Hewitt take on South Africa’s Kevin Anderson, while Dimitrov will face another former Queen’s champion in the American Sam Querrey.Reuse content