ANDY MURRAY will bid for his fourth Queen’s Club title in seven years this summer as he bids to join an elite few of quadruple winners.
The Scot has confirmed his presence at the Aegon Championships in June, along with defending champion Grigor Dimitrov, after victories in 2009, 2011 and 2013 leave him on the brink of becoming a four-time champ like John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Lleyton Hewitt and Andy Roddick.
Murray, who lost to Radek Stepanek in the third round last year, said: “I’d love to win the tournament again. I’ve had some great moments on those grass courts. It’s where I won my first professional match and my first title in Britain.
“When you see the names on the trophy, it shows how difficult it is to win. The year I won Wimbledon, it came a few weeks after winning at Queen’s, and it’s perfect preparation.”
Dimitrov defeated Feliciano Lopez in the final last year and went on to have his best run at a Grand Slam at Wimbledon, ending Murray’s title defence in the quarter-finals before losing to Novak Djokovic in the semis. The popular Bulgarian said: “I have always had a special relationship with everyone at the Aegon Championships, right from when I was given two wild cards early on in my career, to last year when I lifted the trophy for the first time.
“It is one of my favourite tournaments and winning the title last year was one of the best moments of my career so far.
“I am really happy that I will be coming back to defend my title and I look forward to playing in front of the great British crowds again.”
The tournament has enhanced status on the ATP Tour this year, having been bumped up from a 250 tournament to 500. It has also been moved back a week in the extended grass court season, meaning it is no longer straight after the French Open.
Organisers will hope a combination of the two changes will lead to a bumper field for the event, which starts on 15 June.
As preparations continue for the Australian Open next week, Samantha Stosur overcame home crowd jitters to beat Lucie Safarova 7-6 (7-3), 5-7, 6-3 yesterday in the first round of the Sydney International, while Caroline Wozniacki’s Open chances suffered a setback when she was forced to withdraw with a wrist injury.
Stosur saved three break points to take a 3-2 lead in the third set before breaking Safarova again when the Czech player double-faulted on back-to-back points.
Stosur, who won the 2011 US Open, has never been past the fourth round at the Australian Open. She will play Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic in the second round after Wozniacki’s withdrawal. The fourth-seeded Dane trailed 6-4, 1-1 when she walked to the net and said she couldn’t continue.
Wozniacki was coming off a hard-fought loss to Venus Williams in the final of the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, on Saturday, and the injury throws her fitness into doubt for the Australian Open.
At the Hobart International tournament in Tasmania, top-seeded Casey Dellacqua of Australia beat Lauren Davis of the US 6-4, 1-6, 6-4. Great Britain’s Heather Watson also progressed after beating Magdalena Rybarikova 7-5, 6-1.