After stunning the tennis world with his comeback to the tour winning the Australian Open title and the Sunshine double in Miami and Indian Wells, Federer took he decision to skip the entire clay court season – his goal undoubtedly is to add the Wimbledon title to his stash.
He had a decent run here losing to defending champion Dominic Thiem in the semi-final. It will be fascinating to see how he starts his grass court season after a long lay-off. This is the surface that arguably suits him best, and he typically starts his grass season in Europe before heading to SW19.
After what looked like a decent start of the year with the Brisbane and Sofia titles under his belt this season, the clay court season seemed a little quiet for the Bulgarian. Not traditionally his best surface anyway – he picked up some wins but the last couple of years he has not lived up to his 2014 performances at Queen’s Club and Wimbledon.
He seemed a lot more settled adding Dani Vallverdu into his team but it will be fascinating to see how he builds on his earlier momentum at the start of the year, on a surface he has had decent results on in the past. He certainly will want to do better than his first round exit last year, on hus debut.
If Dimitrov has had an up and down time of late, that appears to be nothing compared to Berdych, who surely must accept that Slam greatness may well have passed him by. His own pairing with Vallverdu stalled when the former assistant coach to Andy Murray tried to push sticking to a game plan on the Czech. For a while he seemed to forget how to adapt instinctively.
His short-lived alliance with Goran Ivanisevic has also come to an end, so Berdych just seems a little directionless at the moment. Grass is a decent surface for the Czech so he will hope for a couple of deep runs ahead of Wimbledon, where he is defending semi-final points this year.
The Frenchman is another seed looking to erase a pretty mediocre first round exit from memory after last year. That being said, his stuttering starts at Stuttgart and Halle gave way to a run to the Wimbledon quarter-finals, so every cloud has a silver lining!
He certainly has improved on the surface since the year before where he crashed out in three qualies and the Wimbledon first round, so something has obviously clicked for him.
The Mercedes Cup takes place between 12-18 June – (BST +1 hour).
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