Annabel Croft has picked out several key players to watch at Queen’s 2021 – known as the Cinch Championships – as the ATP Tour switches from clay to grass courts for the summer months.
The former British tennis ace believes Milos Raonic could be the main man to watch as the week progresses, and has some encouraging words for fans hoping to see Dan Evans build on an impressive year so far.
Croft, who is part of Amazon Prime Video’s coverage of the championships, believes the jump from clay to grass remains a big challenge for modern players but believes the following stars have what it takes to triumph at Queen’s Club this week.
Croft said: “The name that stands out in terms of big serving and having had huge success on grass courts in the past would be Milos Raonic.
“He’s done well at Queen’s in the past – a name that would be a nightmare for anybody in the draw because of that huge style and knows knows his way around a grass court.”
“I first saw him at Queen’s when he first played there and I just remember him lighting up that Centre Court. Nobody, I don’t think the crowds or the fans were very familiar with him, but he just had a game style that drew the public to him and the crowd was just going wild for his tennis.
“He is such a beautiful player with that massive lefty serve but everything’s very fluid and firepower from the back of the court with that huge strike on the forehand, he’s got a single-handed, left-handed backhand, which is extremely unusual and a lot of people were saying he is very reminiscent of a Rod Laver backhand.
“I love his style, I think he’s had a good year and he’s improving. I think he would be very problematic for a lot of players.”
“I think Dan Evans is going to do really well because of his style of play and the confidence that he’s had during 2021.
“He obviously beat the World No.1 Djokovic at Monte Carlo and that was extraordinary. He has such a perfect game style for grass, but the fact that he’s improved himself in that clay season dramatically, and the confidence that he can take from a win like that and then come back onto the grass, I would imagine if most players in the draw saw their name next to his, they would not enjoy that match-up.
“I think he can cause a lot of problems for everybody.”
But while Croft believes these three contenders are primed for a big surge this week, she believes it could be an unpredictable week in West London as players prepare for Wimbledon following a disjointed year to say the least.
She added: “Because of what’s happened this year, it certainly makes Queen’s very, very interesting in terms of that it’s almost impossible to say who’s going to come out on top. There isn’t a clear favourite.
“We’ll just have to see who copes best with the conditions and the fact that there’s little time between clay courts and grass courts, who’s going to adapt to those conditions the best? I would say would favour the ones with more experience on the grass from previously.”