The AEGON Championships has awarded its wild cards to two of Great Britain’s Davis Cup players and three of the most promising teenagers in the sport.
British duo James Ward and Jamie Baker are joined by 17-year-old Australian Bernard Tomic, 18-year-old American Ryan Harrison and the former Wimbledon boys champion, 19-year-old Grigor Dimitrov in the main draw of the event, which starts at The Queen’s Club in London on Monday.
Ward qualified for the ATP event in Chennai at the start of the year, and won a set against former World No.1 Marat Safin at The Queen’s Club in 2008, whilst Baker has made a stirring comeback from a life-threatening illness over the past year. The Scot had fallen as low as No.982 in July of last year because of the illness-enforced lay-off, but has since shot up more than 700 places to No.257.
Tomic has also made great strides over the past 18 months, jumping more than 500 places in the rankings to No.260, winning eight matches to lift a challenger title as a qualifier in February, and extending eventual semifinalist Marin Cilic to five sets in the Australian Open.
Dimitrov, currently ranked No.338, won the the Wimbledon boys title in 2008 and reached the second round at the AEGON Championships last year, losing out narrowly to former World No.6 Gilles Simon of France.
Harrison, No.268, lists grass as his favourite surface, and is one of the great hopes of American tennis. He successfully qualified for the Delray Beach tournament earlier this year and is the highest ranked teenager in the United States.
“We always try to use our wild cards to give an opportunity to British players, young international prospects, or established players who are returning from illness or injury,” said Tournament Director, Chris Kermode.
“We had initially given a wild card to Mario Ancic, who has been out of the game for a long time through illness, but unfortunately he has sustained a back injury and had to pull out. Jamie Baker and James Ward have both performed well since returning from illness themselves, and the teenage trio of Bernard Tomic, Ryan Harrison and Grigor Dimitrov have all got enormous potential. We look forward to seeing how they perform against a world-class field here at the AEGON Championships.”
They join a line-up of players that includes defending champion Andy Murray, 2008 winner Rafael Nadal, four-time champion Andy Roddick and the current World No.3 Novak Djokovic.
Fernando Verdasco, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Ernests Gulbis have all been forced to withdraw from the tournament because of injury. American duo Robby Ginepri and Taylor Dent, and the talented Japanese player Kei Nishikori, come into the field.
The AEGON Championships will be broadcast live, every day, on BBC Television and Eurosport.
For more information, please go to the official AEGON Championships website: http://www.aegontennis.co.uk
Notes to Editors:
- In recent years, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Boris Becker, Pete Sampras and Rafael Nadal have all completed the grass-court double, winning the AEGON Championships and Wimbledon in the same year.
- AEGON became the Lead Partner of British Tennis in January 2009 in a five-year partnership covering all aspects of tennis, from grass roots to international events such as the AEGON Championships.
- AEGON is one of the world’s leading insurance groups. In the UK, AEGON offer pensions, life insurance, asset management and financial advice to corporate and individual customers.
Media contact: David Law, AEGON Championships Media Director – firstname.lastname@example.org; +44 (0) 7764 186090