Credited as the perfect warm-up to Wimbledon, the BNP Paribas Tennis Classic boasted its strongest line-up of ATP players to date as they fine-tuned their Wimbledon preparations. They were joined by Legends of the game who continue to defy and entertain the crowds on Hurlingham’s centre court.
Tuesday’s VIP Launch set the tone for the week; sunshine, Champagne and strawberries. A host of celebrities including Will Young, Kelly Hoppen MBE, Brendon Cole, Jade Parfitt and Henry Conway enjoyed a memorable afternoon and evening of tennis in the stunning grounds of the Hurlingham Club.
Kyle Edmund opened the event and stole the show by beating Marin Cilic, a player ranked 291 places above him, in a Champions tie-break after the reversing the second set tie-break. The final result was 6-7, 7-6, 10-7.
Both the defending Wimbledon Champion and world number 1 enjoyed grass-court success ahead of The Championships as Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal, respectively, both defeated Tommy Robredo in straight sets. Andy Murray, playing on Thursday, was watched on carefully by new coach Amelie Mauresmo, whilst Nadal opened proceedings on Friday afternoon.
On Wednesday afternoon spectators were treated to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Nishikori, with the Frenchman eventually coming through a tough two sets 7-5, 6-3. A classic rematch of Wimbledon encounters from 2000 and 2004 between Mark Philippoussis and Tim Henman then followed, with the Australian having the final say against his British counterpart, winning 7-5, 6-4.
World number 6 Tomas Berdych brought newly crowned Queen’s Champion Grigor Dimitrov’s winning run on grass to an end with a 7-5, 6-4 victory on Thursday afternoon. Berdych followed this up on Friday with a hard fought Champions tie-break victory over rising sensation Kei Nishikori, with the final result 4-6, 6-3, 10-4.
Not to be outdone by the ATP players, Legends of the game played entertaining doubles matches to the joy of the crowd each day. Crowd favourite Mansour Bahrami enjoyed a winning partnership with Goran Ivanisevic on Tuesday evening as they defeated Peter McNamara and Mark Philippoussis. Unfortunately he couldn’t carry this through the week, losing to Ivanisevic and McNamara on Wednesday with doubles partner Mikeal Pernfors and on Thursday and Friday with Andrew Castle against Pat Cash with McNamara and Perfnors, respectively.