Kyle Edmund  vs Ryan Harrison H2H: Harrison leads 1-0
Kyle Edmundhas been enjoying life as the new British No.1. Playing some of the best tennis that we have seen from Edmund in the years of his development and the rise to a career-high ranking provides proof of just that. He has dealt with the pressure that comes with that position admirably, but nothing is quite like the expectation surrounding a British player doing well over the summer of British grass court events.
Edmund actually had a pretty horrid time of the grass last season as he struggled to pick up the form he would have liked, winning just one match over three tournaments in Queen’s, Eastbourne and Wimbledon, but that was period where the Brit was still trying to find a full-time coach and he also didn’t have the confidence of a very good clay season to fall back on to show far he has come and that is why I think Edmund goes in as favourite against America’s Ryan Harrison in his Queen’s opener.
In many ways Harrison has a game that can thrive on the grass as he can kick up the pace with heavy first serves and has the power behind his forehand side that does damage against a lot of opponents, but his kick serve and counter-punching from the baseline is something that is far less effective on this surface where the more aggressive players tend to fare that little bit better.
Prediction: Edmund in two sets.
Dan Evans [wc] vs Adrian Mannarino H2H: First meeting
This Queen’s tournament also marks the return of Dan Evansat an ATP World Tour event, which will be his first event since being banned for testing positive for cocaine last year. The former Top-50 player has had to try to build his ranking back up at the lower levels of professional tennis to put himself anywhere near where he wants to be, which is challenging at ATP level events but also having a ranking high enough to get in the Grand Slams by merit.
Evans faces Adrian Mannarino in the first round of Queen’s, who is an experienced campaigner and a flair player that likes to work the angles on his left-handed serve, but also generates of angles and plays with finesse with his shots from the baseline, but has an edgy temperament that lets him down at times.
Although this is a massive step up in terms of opponents Evans has been playing at the Challengers, he will be feeling confident because of those matches he has put together and will be fresh from playing the Nottingham Challenger Final.
Cameron Norrie [wc] vs Stan Wawrinka H2H: First time meeting
Cameron Norrie is the fourth of five Brits in action in the opening round of Queens and he will be looking to make the most of the wildcard when he plays the three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka. Norrie had what looked to have been a very good clay court season, reaching the semi-final in Lyon, his first at that level, but also had his moment in the sun when he played Lucas Pouille on the main court at the French Open, which he did not for one moment look out of place.
Grass may be a bit more of a struggle for Norrie when you break down his game. The serve and forehand are two of his shots that work very well on the clay court because of the amount of work he is able to put on the ball with heaps of spins and his game can be hard to navigate through on a clay court because of how well he competes from the baseline. Norrie’s flat double-handed backhand could be a nifty weapon on the grass, but I think that Wawrinka will get the better of him, simply because of his experience.
Prediction: Wawrinka in two sets
Jay Clarke [wc] vs Sam Querrey  H2H: First meeting
Promising Brit Jay Clarke gets his opportunity, his first opportunity to win an ATP main draw match as he faces former Queens champion and No.5 seed Sam Querrey in the opening round. Clarke is one of the feel-good stories of British tennis. Relying on coaching duties from his Mum and Dad that has taken him from outside the World’s Top-500 to just outside the World’s Top-200 in not much over a year of tennis. His development has been something that many British tennis fans have kept a close eye on as he has picked up match-wins after match-wins at Futures and Challengers levels and now can see where his game is at against a Top-20 player in Querrey.
Querrey can be vulnerable in baseline exchanges, which Clarke will learn quite quickly. The American likes to dominate with the serve and first forehand of the rally. If he gets given the time to start each rally on that wing then it will be difficult for Clarke to really play well and earn games in this match-up, but Querrey’s backhand is something that has always been a liability because it does not have the same weight of shot and create as much winners as the forehand. Experience may be a huge factor when these two meet.
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