A number of high-profile stars including Stan Wawrinka, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Marin Cilic, and a returning Kevin Anderson will headline the 2019 Fever-Tree Championships from London’s iconic Queen’s club. With a host of the top seeds lacking match fitness or out of form, could we brace ourselves for a surprise new champion? The Main Draw, and the road to a title, starts Monday. Who will move on? Let’s find out.
We analyze the opening-round matches on Day 1, which will feature defending champion Marin Cilic.
ATP Queen’s Club Championships Day 1 Predictions
Kevin Anderson vs Cameron Norrie
Head-To-Head: First meeting
Kevin Anderson will make his long-awaited return to tennis this week after nursing a nagging elbow injury for almost three months. Last year’s Wimbledon runner-up will compete in his first match since losing in the quarterfinals of the Miami Open. This will only be the South African’s fourth tournament in 2019.
His opponent, Cameron Norrie, will be among four Brits in action in singles competition this week. Norrie does have a penchant for grass and fast surfaces. He reached the quarterfinals on the grass of Eastbourne and made his first ATP final on the hard courts of Auckland this year. With Anderson just coming back from a lengthy absence, this is invariably a dicey proposition–particularly when you consider he lost in the first round at Queen’s last year to Leonardo Mayer. While this may be a good time for Norrie to play the 33-year-old, I expect Anderson to take charge of proceedings here.
Prediction: Anderson in 3
Daniil Medvedev vs Fernando Verdasco
Head-To-Head: Medvedev 2-1 Verdasco
Daniil Medvedev had the most wins of any player on tour in 2019 at the start of European clay swing. The Russian reached his first Masters 1000 semifinal in Monte Carlo before finishing runner-up in Barcelona a week later. But since that fantastic run in Barcelona, Medvedev has not won a match, losing in the opening round of his next four tournaments, including last week’s Stuttgart Open. Verdasco is a very dangerous foe to top players, and he won’t be so kind to a badly-struggling Medvedev.
Prediction: Verdasco in 3
Frances Tiafoe vs Nicolas Mahut
Head-To-Head: Tiafoe 1-0 Mahut
Frances Tiafoe has a decent record on grass. The American won his first main draw match at Queen’s last year and went on to reach the quarterfinals. At Wimbledon, the 21-year-old reached the third round, where he lost Khachanov while holding a 2-0 set lead. It was a slight improvement from his second-round achievement in 2017. Tiafoe will hope to keep up his good form on grass as he opens up against French veteran Nicolas Mahut, whom at the age of 37 came through two grueling qualifying matches against Nicolas Jarry and Davidovich Fokina. Mahut will need to expend his energy in another physical battle against the young American, but I am afraid he will come up short.
Prediction: Tiafoe in 2
Marin Cilic vs Cristian Garin
Head-To-Head: First meeting
Since capturing the title at Queen’s last year, Marin Cilic’s season completely deteriorated. He suffered a heartbreaking defeat to Guido Pella at Wimbledon in the second round where he surrendered a two-set lead. Cilic would qualify for the season-ending ATP finals for the fourth time in five seasons at the back end of last year, but in fairness he is yet to come to terms with that loss to the Argentinean. He battled a troublesome knee injury during the Australian Open earlier in January, which subsequently played a part in his terrible run of form ever since.
The Croat has a seemingly difficult opening match against Chile’s fast-rising star Cristian Garin, whose form is a complete contrast to Cilic. The 23-year-old had struggled for years to make his mark on the senior tour, but this year everything seems to have clicked. He collected his maiden tour-level title in Houston and then went on to capture his second on the clay courts of Munich, beating established clay-courters like Diego Schwartzman and the top seed Alexander Zverev.
Cilic usually fares well on grass with his booming serve and powerful forehand being major weapons on the slick lawns. But Garin has been in better form coming to the grass court season. The young Chilean was on the cusp of reaching the Rosmalen semifinals after failing to convert a match point in his defeat to Borna Coric. This is a first meeting between the pair and Cilic should call on his experience to get him over the line.
Prediction: Cilic in 3
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Disagree with our ATP Queen’s Club Championships Day 1 Predictions? Let us know what you expect to see on Monday at Queen’s.