Queen’s Club Championships: Murray and Lendl reunite in time to make history
Sam Barnard, Assistant Sports Editor | June 12, 2016
Murray out for Queen’s history
A total of five Brits will take part at the Queen’s Club Aegon Championships this year, four of which incredibly are in the top quarter and all against French opponents.
In what will be intriguing Britain v France battles, Andy Murray once again leads the charge, but goes up against old foe and 2007 runner-up Nicolas Mahut, whose only victory over the Scot came at this tournament in 2012.
Although Murray is a four-time Queen’s champion, he has never defended this crown – always winning it in alternate years from 2009. He is the 11/8 favourite with Coral to finally do so, though, and in turn be the first man ever to claim five singles titles at the famous West Kensington event.
Eight people, including the Scotsman, are currently tied in first place with four, the others being Grand Slam champions John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Lleyton Hewitt and Andy Roddick in the Open Era, and Roy Emerson, Anthony Wilding and Major Ritchie before then.
Only Murray, Hewitt, Roddick and New Zealander Wilding, who died just a year after winning his last Queen’s title while fighting in France in World War I, have 100 per cent records in finals on these courts, however.
Murray-Lendl a winning formula
But Murray has found the perfect formula to achieve an unprecedented fifth crown here. He’s announced that he will link up once again with coach Ivan Lendl, who oversaw the Scot’s two Grand Slam trophies as well as his Olympic Gold medal during their last spell together, just in time.
Murray said: “I had two very successful years working with Ivan, he’s single-minded and knows what it takes to win the big events. I’m looking forward to Ivan joining the team again and helping me try and reach my goals.”
While, 56-year-old Lendl added: “I enjoyed working with Andy in the past. Andy and I have always stayed in contact so it should be fun to be part of his team again.”
The pair will work together from Monday, when Murray takes on Mahut, who he is heavily odds-on at 1/8 to beat. While the Frenchman has beaten the world number two before at Queen’s at this stage stage in 2012, he was avenged in the last 32 once again the following year.
After adjusting courts from clay to grass, though, French Open runner-up Murray is a more enticing 3/1 to triumph in three sets.
Race to be first Brit to face Murray in decade
Slovenian-born Aljaz Bedene, meanwhile, will be aiming to become the first British representative to face Murray since the latter lost to Tim Henman way back in 2006. That is if he can knock out first opponent Benoit Paire.
The duo have met twice before, gaining a win apiece but both on clay, though the Frenchman (11/10 match chance) tends not to do well on grass so back Bedene at 8/11 for victory.
If Bedene does manage to slip up, however, then either of fellow top 100 ATP-ranked Brits Kyle Edmund or Dan Evans can still face Murray in the quarter-finals.
South African-born Yorkshireman Edmund (3/1) has the trickier tie against eighth seed Gilles Simon (1/4), as 2015 Davis Cup-winning teammate Evans (5/4) faces world number 60 Paul-Henri Mathieu (8/13).
In the bottom half of the draw, forgotten man James Ward will hoping to roll back the years to when he was just one victory away from meeting Murray in the 2011 Queen’s final. The London-born big-server (7/2) has been handed Luxembourg veteran Gilles Muller (1/5) up first.
If you want to back the Brits to do a clean sweep of their French opponents, then a four-fold acca would equate to around a 17/1 price. Or if you were to include Ward, it would jump up to about 80/1.
Other top names in star-studded Queen’s draw
Elsewhere, while Rafael Nadal has pulled out due to a wrist injury sustained at the French Open, there is still a star-studded draw at Queen’s this year. In just the opening round, there is a tasty first round clash between exciting youngsters Nick Kyrgios (4/5 slight favourite) and Milos Raonic (evens).
The Aussie and Canadian have played out two four-setters at Wimbledon before, both with a win apiece, while Kyrgios holds a 3-2 record in overall meetings. This match is 11/10 to go to over 2.5 sets.
Meanwhile, 2014 runner-up Feliciano Lopez (5/4) takes on 2012 champion Marin Cilic (8/13), who beat David Nalbandian in an infamous final that year when the Argentine was disqualified for accidentally striking an official.
Two other former Queen’s winners Grigor Dimitrov (2014) and Sam Querrey (2010) also return this year, against Janko Tipsarevic and Roberto Bautista Agut respectively.
Other top stars in action include Stan Wawrinka (against Fernando Verdasco) and Richard Gasquet (Steve Johnson), while Juan Martin del Potro continues his comeback from a long-term injury against fellow big-server John Isner.