Class on the grass: Does success at Queen’s bring equal success at Wimbledon?

The Aegon Championships at the Queen’s Club has an illustrious history as Wimbledon’s warm-up tournament. Arguably this year’s event is going to be bigger than ever before, with nine of the world’s top 20 players competing, taking full advantage of its upgrade to an ATP 500 level tournament which began last year. There is also the added benefit of there being a week’s gap between the conclusion of the French Open and the start of the tournament in London, which massively benefitted the tournament last year.

Success Stories

Seven players have gone on to complete the Queen’s Club-Wimbledon double in the same year, including two in the last decade, Rafael Nadal (2008) and Andy Murray (2013). Murray is aiming for a record fifth title at the Aegon Championships in 2016, while Nadal has had to withdraw due to a wrist injury. Therefore, it is fair to say that those players have had great success in using this event as a warm-up tournament. Over the past decade, Queen’s Club champions have performed very well when moving on to compete at Wimbledon.

2008 Queen's Club champion Rafael Nadal. Photo: Getty
2008 Queen’s Club champion Rafael Nadal. Photo: Getty

Besides Nadal and Murray completing the double, four-time champion Andy Roddick reached the Wimbledon final in 2005 and in 2009, while the 2014 champion Grigor Dimitrov advanced to reach his first Grand Slam semifinal in the same year at SW19. The other two champions from the past decade yet to be mentioned, Sam Querrey and Marin Cilic, may not have fared as successfully, but still reached the last 16 at the All-England Club in the year they lifted the trophy.

Not so Lucky

Those who have come so close, yet so far from getting their hands on the Aegon Championships trophy after defeats in the final have not performed as well in general at Wimbledon. Three players have fallen victim to a first round exit on the courts of SW19, Ivo Karlovic (2005), James Blake (2009) and David Nalbandian (2012); who was famously disqualified in the Queen’s Club final after kicking a wooden board which saw parts break off and impale a line judge’s leg.

A moment to forget in David Nalbandian's career. Photo: Getty
A moment to forget in David Nalbandian’s career. Photo: Getty

Four previous runner-ups only failed to match their Queen’s Club results: Nicolas Mahut (2007), Mardy Fish (2010), Cilic (2013 *forced withdrawal*) and perhaps most surprisingly Novak Djokovic (2008). The most successful losing finalist in the past decade has been Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who reached his first Wimbledon semi-final in 2011 following a narrow three sets defeat at the hands of Andy Murray in the Queen’s final. Meanwhile, last year’s runner-up Kevin Anderson put in a fine performance against Djokovic in the last 16 at Wimbledon last year, pushing him to five sets in a match which was played over two days.

What can be learned from this? Success at Queen’s Club does not necessarily mean success at Wimbledon, as many finalists at the warm up event have crashed out. It is clear that past champions have fared very well heading to SW19, but this is never a guarantee and not many have gone all the way to lift the Wimbledon trophy. That being said, most of that is down to a certain Swiss man capturing seven Wimbledon titles. Roger Federer prefers to compete at a warm-up tournament in Halle, Germany, and has great success there too. Perhaps more players should look to try their luck ther.

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