By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd
Bernard Tomic, who in 2011 became the first teenager since Boris Becker to reach the Men’s Singles semi-finals at Wimbledon, was the player to avoid – but British wildcard James Ward faces the Monaco-based Australian in a mouthwatering 1st Round.
Tomic has been drawn against the British no2, who is a former quarter-finalist at Devonshire Park, keen to bounce back following a brief and unsuccessful appearance at Queen’s in London last week.
He stuttered out of the 2012 AEGON International in three sets to Fabio Fognini despite being the no4 seed and was booed off the Wimbledon courts following his destruction of the grass with his racquet after tasting defeat.
Edmund, the world no444, will be seeking to register his maiden ATP Tour main draw victory ahead of his first wildcard entry for 2013 Wimbledon.
Milos Raonic, the world no15 and late wildcard, has the pressure on his shoulders as the top seed. The giant Canadian, whose booming serve puts him in with a fantastic chance of claiming the Eastbourne crown on his debut.
But he will need to bounce back from his surprise straight set exit on grass at last week’s opening match against French ace Gael Monfils at the Gerry Weber Open in Germany.
Montenegrian-born Raonic split with his Spanish coach Galo Blanco last month and now works from his Monte Carlo base with former ATP Tour star Ivan Ljubicic on a trial run with the Croatian.
The 22-year-old has a bye so starts in the 2nd Round against either Ivan Dodig or Denis Istomin.
At the other end of the draw no2 seed Gilles Simon, relegated from top billing with Raonic’s arrival on Thursday, will be eager to show the fans that he could waltz his way to the Eastbourne title.
The French star has never got further than the quarter-finals at Devonshire Park despite possessing all the weapons that are suited to grass.
The world no17 employs tactics that grind down opponents and utilises the pace of his opponents with a trampoline effect. Simon starts off in the 2nd Round against either British teenager Kyle Edmund or French qualifier Kerry de Schepper.
Phillip Kohlschreiber, arguably the most probable 2013 winner, has the perfect all round game is suited to grass. He is seeded no3 and in the same half of the draw as Simon. The German begins the tournament with a 2nd Round clash against either Marinko Marosevic or Radek Stephanek.
Clay court specialist Juan Monaco, the no4 seed, is drawn to face the winner of Spain’s Feliciano Lopez and Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen. However, the Argentinian is unlikely to make much of an impact on grass with a 3-6 record on the surface. However, on his Eastbourne debut he will be seeking to capture his second ATP Tour title of 2013 having won the Dusseldorf crown last month.
Giant South African ace Kevin Anderson, the no5 seed, has arguably the toughest match of all the seeds with Julien Benneteau his opening Round opponent.
Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov, a Devonshire Park regular, takes the no6 slot and is drawn against Fernando Verdasco.
Former Eastbourne champion Andreas Seppi is a dangerous opponent in the draw as no7 seed. The Italian faces French qualifier Guiliame Rufin and boasts an impressive 13-5 record at Eastbourne, finishing 2011champion and 2012 runner-up to Andy Roddick.
Seppi’s compatriot Fognini takes the no8 berth and in the 1st Round will tackle Slovenian Grega Zemlja.
Two Americans have booked themselves into the main draw after polishing off three victims apiece in qualifying. James Blake dispatched Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky in a three set thriller on Sunday to earn a place in the main draw, where he faces Spaniard Albert Ramos. With Ryan Harrison seeing off his American compatriot Michael Russell in two closely fought sets, his reward is a clash against France’s Paul-Henri Mathieu.
- Milos RAONIC (Canada)
- Gilles SIMON (France)
- Philipp KOHLSCHREIBER (Germany)
- Juan MONACO (Argentina)
- Kevin ANDERSON (South Africa)
- Alexandr DOLGOPOLOV (Ukraine)
- Andreas SEPPI (Italy)
- Fabio FOGNINI (Italy)
(1)Milos Raonic (CAN) bye
Denis Istomin (UZB) vs Ivan Dodig (CRO) [head-to-head1-0]
Viktor Troicki (SRB) vs Martin Klizan (SVK) [1-0]
Grega Zemlja (SLO) vs (8)Fabio Fognini (ITA) [1-2]
(4)Juan Monaco (ARG) bye
Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) vs Feliciano Lopez (ESP) [7-2]
Albert Ramos (ESP) vs (qualifier)James Blake (USA) [1-0]
Fernando Verdasco (ESP) vs (6)Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR) [1-0]
(7)Andreas Seppi (ITA) vs (q)Guiliame Rufin (FRA) [1-0]
Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA) vs (q)Ryan Harrison (USA) [1-0]
Radek Stepanek (CZE) vs Marinko Matosevic (AUS)
(3)Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) bye
(5)Kevin Anderson (RSA) vs Julien Benneteau (FRA) [1-2]
Bernard Tomic (AUS) vs (WC)James Ward (GBR)
(WC)Kyle Edmund (GBR) vs (q)Kerry de Schepper (FRA)
(2)Gilles Simon (FRA) bye