Legendary men served up

2013 AEGON International, Legends, News

Mark Philipoussis

Aussie ace Philippoussis

Mark Philippoussis and Greg Rusedski, both former US Open runners-up, have signed up to treat the Devonshire Park crowd to their grass skills this year as part of the annual Legends Exhibition Event on 16 June.

The big-serving grass court specialists will face each other Singles for only the seventh time, three wins apiece on the ATP Tour, before competing in the Mixed Doubles contest with ex-Wimbledon winners Lindsay Davenport and Rennae Stubbs.

Rusedski, the ex-British no1, explained: “I’ve had some tough matches against Mark and I enjoy playing on grass, so I’m looking forward to dusting down my racquet.”

Greg Rusedski

Great Brit Rusedski

Australian ace Phillipoussis (1998) and Rusedski (1997) were both unseeded and each fell in four sets to Australian Patrick Rafter in tense US Open finals, but never reached the dizzy heights they achieved at the New York Grand Slam event.

However, Philippoussis finished 2003 Wimbledon runner-up to Swiss star Roger Federer and collected 11 ATP Tour titles, including on grass at Queen’s in London in 1997. His last success was at Newport in the United States seven years ago, when he dethroned reigning champion Rusedski.

For Rusedski, Newport proved to be a happy hunting ground as he took the title three times and won the first (1993) and last (2005) of his 15 ATP Tour crowns on the grass courts.

Davenport and Stubbs, both former world no1s at Ladies Doubles, each victorious at the Wimbledon Championships and ex-winners at Devonshire Park, will add to the day’s spectacle for the Mixed Doubles contest.

Lindsay Davenport

Ex-Wimbledon winner Davenport

American Davenport, a former world no1 at Singles on the WTA Tour, had a wondrous 1999 at SW19 by beating German Steffi Graf for the Singles crown then added the Ladies Doubles title with fellow American Corina Morariu. She also took the Eastbourne title in 2001, one of her 55 WTA Tour triumphs over a 15-year period.

Australian Stubbs is a Doubles specialist who teamed up with compatriot Lisa Raymond to win the 2001 Ladies Doubles at Wimbledon and three years later added her second crown with South African Cara Black.

Bring on Berdych

EXCLUSIVE, Men's Singles, Players

Tomas Berdych

Big hit: Tomas Berdych

With the names of this year’s competitors in the Men’s AEGON International being a closely guarded secret by the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), there are four players who definitely will not be at Devonshire Park.

Marcos Baghdatis, who made an unspectacular appearance at Eastbourne, has signed up for the Topshelf Open in the Netherlands that takes place during the same week as the 2013 AEGON International.

Spaniard David Ferrer, American giant John Isner and Pole Stanislas Wawrinka are also among the names to warm up for Wimbledon in Holland.

Yet Czech star Tomas Berdych seems to be the most likely – and probably only – top 10 player from the ATP Tour to visit Eastbourne, although that will obviously depend on his progress at the previous week’s event at Queen’s Club in London as to whether he will opt for a wildcard entry.

Former Czech Republic aces have frequented Devonshire Park in the past, and the 2010 Wimbledon runner-up will listen to advice from coach Ivan Ljubicic about whether to warm-up for the Championships at Devonshire Park if Queens doesn’t go to plan.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was displeased with having to commit to play at Eastbourne after he reached the 2011 final at Queen’s Club, which was completed on the Monday due to the weather.

But the French ace had signed up to compete at the AEGON International, so begrudgingly played and at the ensuing press conference following defeat blasted the schedule. He has vowed never to return to Eastbourne.

Olympic champion Andy Murray is another player unlikely to ever make an AEGON International appearance, especially after his mother Judy strongly criticised Eastbourne and called it a “sleepy town”.

The usual suspects that are probable arrivals at Eastbourne include South African Kevin Anderson, Spaniard Pablo Andujar, France’s Julien Benneteau, Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, Australian veteran Lleyton Hewitt, Poland’s Lukasz Kubot, Taipei’s Yen-Hsun Lu, Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen, American Sam Querrey, Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky and Russian Dmitry Tursunov.