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Andy Murray has been tipped to triumph in the Surbiton Trophy over the next week with the club’s director Roy Staniland hailing the impact the double Wimbledon champion’s entry has had on the tournament.
The ATP Challenger Tour event has resumed for the first time since 2019 this summer after the coronavirus pandemic forced it to be cancelled for the past two years.
Its return was always set to be a special occasion for Surbiton Racket & Fitness Club but Murray’s desire to play ensured ticket sales went through the roof and the three-time grand slam winner will begin his grass-court season on Monday when he takes on Austrian number one Jurij Rodionov.
“We were looking forward to a level of player at the tournament but when Andy signed up everything went nuts; ticket sales and everything, so it is really great,” club director Staniland told the PA news agency.
“Normally we see the players of the future that you may see at Wimbledon later in the year or in the next few years but to have someone of Andy’s level is very good for us.
“Having the level of players and standard coming, it is like the circus has come to town with the build-up and everything, so it has been fantastic.”
Staniland has been director at Surbiton since 1985 and remembers when Murray played a match at the venue in 2004. He was also able to reel off some of the other notable stars of the men’s game to feature in the London event.
Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt both kicked off their professional grass-court careers at the club and the latter also returned in 2019 to play doubles.
“Federer played (19)98 and it was great to see him on court. He lost in the semi-finals and then in ’99 Lleyton Hewitt played and in 2019 he came back so that was a nice thing to have here,” said Staniland.
“It is just fantastic to be back and all you have to do is look around and see the faces of some of the people here and you’ll see they are so excited to have these players back.
“We had the Under-16 and Under-18 (National) Championships last year and the winners went through to Wimbledon so that is what we looked after last year but we had one very quiet summer in 2020.
“We didn’t know what would happen or what furlough was and all those things, so it was quite a shock to the system.”
Murray’s involvement adds to the excitement growing at Surbiton, which officially started on Sunday with qualifying for both the men and women.
Another name to watch out for is Briton’s Jack Draper, who is set to play on Tuesday and enters the tournament following four Challenger title victories in 2022. Meanwhile, Harriet Dart will be seeded in the women’s draw as she looks to build momentum before Wimbledon.
“Andy Murray to win the men’s and I am not sure about the ladies’ yet,” Staniland predicted, with the Scot expected to be third on centre court on Monday.
#RolandGarros may still be on but attention in England turns to the grass. Nice to be at @SurbitonRFC today and for the rest of the week to see some Brits in action. Andy Murray will feature tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/0KCrO6gble
— George Sessions (@GeorgeSessions) May 29, 2022
“It is great to see Jack Draper here, from Surrey too so a home player. It will be great to watch him play and he has been practising with Andy these last couple of days.
“It is amazing to see those players practising here and showing their standard, it is fantastic.”