The 2014 AEGON Championships at London's Queen's Club will see some prominent contenders taking part. The annual pre-Wimbledon tune-up has been buoyed by the presence of current Wimbledon champion Andy Murray. He is joined by reigning Australian Open winner Stanislas Wawrinka.
The pair headline a solid group of players appearing at the Queen's Club, also featuring Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Lleyton Hewitt.
The schedule is notoriously loose at the Queen's club. The order of play is usually posted the night before. Here is the initial order of play for Monday, June 9:
|Order Of Play AEGON Championships Monday, June 9|
|Court||Player and Country||Player and Country||Time|
|Centre||James Ward, Great Britain||Blaz Rola, Slovenia||12:30 p.m.|
|Centre||Jurgen Melzer, Austria||Daniel Evans, Great Britain||12:30 p.m.|
|Centre||Lleyton Hewitt, Australia||Daniel Gimeno-Traver, Spain||12:30 p.m.|
|Centre||Dusan Lajovic, Serbia||Feliciano Lopez, Spain||12:30 p.m.|
|Centre||Grigor Dimitrov, Bulgaria and Stanislas Wawrinka, Switzerland||Ken Skupski and Neal Skupski, Great Britain||12:30 p.m.|
|1||Tim Smyczek, U.S.A.||Bernard Tomic, Australia||12:30 p.m.|
|1||Sam Querrey, U.S.A.||Jeremy Chardy, France||12:30 p.m.|
|1||Adrian Mannarino, France||Daniel Cox, Great Britain||12:30 p.m.|
|1||Marin Cilic, Croatia and Andre Sa, Brazil||Nicholas Monroe, U.S.A and Vasek Pospisil, Canada||12:30 p.m.|
|2||Dudi Sela, Israel||James Duckworth, Australia||12:30 p.m.|
|2||Michael Russell, U.S.A||Denis Kudla, U.S.A.||12:30 p.m.|
|2||Kenny De Schepper, France||Somdev Devvarman, India||12:30 p.m.|
|9||Paul-Henri Mathieu, France||Aljaz Bedene, Slovenia||12:30 p.m.|
|9||Matthew Ebden, Australia and Mariusz Fyrstenberg, Poland||Kevin Anderson, Russia and Jonathan Erlich, Israel||12:30 p.m.|
|9||Marsel Ilhan, Turkey||Nicolas Mahut, France||12:30 p.m.|
|9||Sergiy Stakhovksy||Daniel Brands, Germany||12:30 p.m.|
If you were to make a prediction about exactly how the action will unfold at the Queen's Club, it would be smart to guess Murray saunters to a victory.
He bested the competition last year, en route to a rare AEGON-Wimbledon double. Given his recent struggles in big matches, Murray will be keen to send a late, pre-Wimbledon reminder that he is still the player to beat.
The Scotsman's recent struggles involve a semi-final annihilation at the French Open, courtesy of Rafael Nadal. Playing on his favoured clay surface, Nadal dropped a mere six games to Murray over three sets.
According to Sports Illustrated's Beyond The Baseline, Murray looked physically fatigued at Roland Garros, per Courtney Nguyen:
Nadal dominated every aspect of this match, but especially his service games. The world No. 1 won 49 of his 59 serving points, losing only four of his first-serve points, and he never faced a break point. The Spaniard won 83 total points to Murray’s 43, which is pretty incredible in a sport where the loser can actually win more points than the winner.
There was no doubt that Murray was drained after his last three matches — two of which went to five sets. Nadal has only dropped one set in the entire tournament, to David Ferrer in the quarterfinals.
Murray won't have enjoyed being such easy prey for Nadal and will relish proving his worth back on grass. Murray is no baseliner, or even a thunderous server, but his exceptional all-round game will be too much for the competition at the Queen's Club.
Murray's main competition will likely come from another player who had a French Open to forget. World No. 3 Wawrinka was dispatched from Roland Garros in Round 1 by 41st-ranked Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
BBC Sport reporter Piers Newbery dubbed Wawrinka's performance "wayward," as he noted: "He looked anything but a reigning Grand Slam champion on Court Philippe Chatrier, however, and appeared uncomfortable from the early stages after play did not get under way until approaching 6pm local time."
As a more natural serve-and-volley specialist, Wawrinka will feel more comfortable on the grass surface at the Queen's Club. Expect him to make it to the final but ultimately be outlasted by Murray.
The AEGON Championships have lost some of their lustre in recent years but remain an invaluable curtain-raiser ahead of Wimbledon.
For Murray and Wawrinka, their matches at the Queen's Club will be about more than just sharpening skills. The pair will have to prove their confidence is up ahead of the major event later this month.