Match Point from Birmingham & London

Simona Halep’s grass court return

You wouldn’t think it had been three years since Simona Halep had played on grass, her last match before her opener in Birmingham was when she lifted the Wimbledon title in 2019 against Serena Williams. Since then we have been hit with a global pandemic and Simona herself suffered a calf tear in Rome which took her out of action for a couple of months.

Simona’s return was a positive one, the Romanian was solid throughout the week and unlucky not to end up with the title losing a tight final to Haddad Maia despite leading in the third set. I saw Simona live and it was great to see her back in action and also play a double match with Donna Vekic but lost to Stosur and Chan in an entertaining battle on Court 2 with fans packed in to grab an eye.

Matteo Berrettini defends his Queens Club title a week on from winning Stuttgart

After three months out the Italian who was the runner-up at Wimbledon last year has returned to action on the grass courts in perfect fashion.

Matteo won the title in Stuttgart last week against Andy Murray and now is a two time Queens Club champion having successfully defended his title in London ahead of the trip to Wimbledon.

Throughout the week there were challenges whether it was the weather or variety in players but the Italian played to a very good level. If I compare his game to this time last year I do think his backhand has improved a lot but there are bigger tests on the horizon.

Katie Boulter & Harriet Dart starred in Birmingham!

With Emma Raducanu and Heather Watson out injured it meant that Katie Boulter and Harriet Dart were the only British players in singles action at Birmingham which is the lowest number of British participants since 2003.

Both however put on exceptional displays throughout the course of the week in Birmingham creating some great memories and making new strides.

Harriet Dart

Harriet’s run ended in the second round losing 3-6 2-6 to Simona Halep but the Brit put on a show in her opening round match of the first day at Birmingham. Harriet was up against top 40 ranked Maria Camila Osario Serrano and the Brit demolished the Colombian dropping two games in a 6-2 6-0 win.

Katie Boulter

Katie had a tough draw beginning with seventh seed Alison Riske who was a runner-up in Birmingham the week before but came through that one impressively with a 6-4 6-3 win over the American. The Brit went onto make it to the final eight in Birmingham with another straight sets win, this one a 7-6 6-1 win over Caroline García before like Harriet won 5 games in a 4-6 1-6 defeat to Simona Halep.

Jack Draper drops 5 games in demolition of Taylor Fritz

As performances go it was one of the best in the tournament from Jack Draper. The Brit dropped just five games in his 6-3 6-2 win over the fourth seed Taylor Fritz.

Jack hit some stunning forehands and backhands down the line during the match and he set out his intentions early on. It was deep and persistent hitting with both shots painting the lines giving the American the run around and sealing the biggest win over his career to date with an ace with a win over the No.14.

Two weeks, three titles for Beatriz Haddad Maia

Well, Nottingham singles and doubles and Birmingham singles, it has been quite the two weeks for Beatriz Haddad Maia. The 26 year old from Brazil has backed up her first singles title with her second and on form you’d have to say she is in the conversation at Wimbledon now.

The Brazilian’s tennis has been a delight to watch over the course of the last couple of weeks, she is quite stubborn on the baseline and hits a pure strike from forehand and backhand down the line. She did come to the net quite a bit against Halep and that for me would be where maybe she just needs to be more ruthless there but two singles title and one doubles on grass is good going.

Not a bad two weeks which included wins over Sakkari, Kvitova and Halep!

Norrie’s defeat to Dimitrov unsurprising but the Brit must now kick on

I wasn’t surprised by Cam’s defeat to Grigor. I think the Brit has been incredible these last eighteen months but this opening match was not ideal for Cam.

Grigor is a former champion and plays some of his best tennis on the grass courts. It is a missed opportunity for Cam and I do hope over the course of the next couple of weeks he does make a big impact as British No.1 he is yet to on home soil.

Ryan Peniston, the last Brit standing!

In the Bingo card not many would have had Ryan Peniston as the last Brit standing but the wildcard found himself a set away from the semi-finals having made it to the final eight losing to eventual runner-up Filip Krajinovic.

Ryan opened his week with a win over the top seed Casper Ruud, it was a surprise on paper but in the reality of the situation I wasn’t surprised. Casper was top seed based on ranking however the Norwegian who was runner-up at Roland Garros was 2-3 coming into Queens on grass in his career!

Take nothing away from Ryan, he played a stormer in the first round winning 7-6 7-6 and giving himself a big boost ahead of Wimbledon.

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