British Andy Murray attends a training session ahed of the Roland Garros 2017 French Tennis Open on May 26, 2017 in Paris. / AFP PHOTO / Gabriel BOUYS
World number one Andy Murray will start the build-up to his Wimbledon title defence with a Queen’s Club first round clash against Aljaz Bedene.
Murray heads into the grass-court campaign back in form after his run to the French Open semi-finals ended a frustrating period marred by problems with injuries and illness.
The Scot, who has battled shingles, an elbow injury and the flu in 2017, was beaten by Stan Wawrinka in five sets on the clay at Roland Garros.
But the 30-year-old is confident he has rediscovered his rhythm in time to mount a strong defence of the Wimbledon crown he won for a second time last year.
The road to the All England Club begins across west London at the Queen’s Club next week, when Murray will be aiming to win the grass-court event for a third successive year and sixth time in total.
First up for Murray is British number four Bedene, who has been considering switching his allegiance back to his native Slovenia after the world number 52 failed in his repeated bids to be allowed to represent Great Britain in the Davis Cup.
Murray beat Bedene in the second round at Queen’s last year and if he wins again he will face either 2010 Queen’s champion Sam Querrey or another Briton — wild card Cameron Norrie — in the last 16.
The three-time Grand Slam winner is seeded to face France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals and former US Open champion Marin Cilic in the semi-finals, with a potential final against second seed Stan Wawrinka.
Wawrinka opens his Queen’s campaign against Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez, while Milos Raonic, beaten by Murray in the Queen’s and Wimbledon finals last year, starts against Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis.
Grigor Dimitrov, the 2014 Queen’s champion, is the only player other than Murray to have won the tournament in the last four years and the Bulgarian takes on Ryan Harrison of the United States in the first round.
Former Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych will look to pull out of his current slump against Steve Darcis.
Cilic, who won Queen’s in 2013 and was runner-up a year later, opens against big-serving American John Isner.