Rafael Nadal to play Aegon Championships after four years away

Rafael Nadal will make his first appearance at Queen’s Club in four years when he plays the Aegon Championships in June.

Nadal, who won the tournament seven years ago, usually plays in Halle as his pre-Wimbledon grass tournament but this summer will grace the courts of west London instead.

And the Spaniard could turn up at Queen’s as the first-ever 10-time winner of a grand slam, as the French Open will have just finished.

Nadal, who has played at Queen’s five times, said: “I am very happy that I will be back this year. It was a great experience for me to lift the trophy in 2008 because it is such an important and traditional tournament. To win Wimbledon a few weeks later was like a dream. Coming to the Aegon Championships helps with the adjustment from clay to grass because the grass courts at Queen’s are so good.”

The Aegon Championships has been upgraded to a Masters 500 event, leading to £670,000 more total prize money on offer than last year. Nadal will improve an already strong field, which features Andy Murray, the US Open champion Marin Cilic, and last year’s winner, Grigor Dimitrov.

The tournament director, Stephen Farrow, said: “We have stayed in contact with Rafa and his team over the years and we always hoped he would return one day.”

This year, there is a week between the end of Roland Garros and the start of the Aegon Championships, instead of it starting the day after the tennis in Paris ends.

The format has also changed a little, with the singles field reduced from 56 to 32, meaning the top seeds will play on the first two days instead of getting a bye to the middle of the week.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Conrad Leach, for theguardian.com on Monday 23rd March 2015 19.00 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010