By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd
Milos Raonic, the world no15, has taken over the mantle as top seed for the 2013 AEGON International from Gilles Simon after being granted a wildcard on Thursday evening.
The Canadian was bundled out of the 1st Round of the Gerry Weber Open in Germany by French ace Gael Monfils on Tuesday without putting up much of a fight in a 6-4 6-2 reversal.
Despite his infamous booming serve, Raonic made a string of unforced errors and whimpered to his concede defeat – following on from his early French Open exit after being out served by South African Kevin Anderson.
But Raonic’s game has recently been going through a bad patch after he parted ways with Spanish coach Galo Blanco last month.
The 22-year-old has turned to Croatia’s Ivan Ljubicic, who retired from competing on the ATP Tour last year after 14 seasons, on a trial run. The pair are working together from Monte Carlo as they both reside in the tax-free haven.
Montenegrian-born Raonic said: “Being coached by Ivan will really offer a new dimension to my game, as his recent experience on Tour is a major plus for my development.
“I’m looking forward to learning as much as I can from him and to continue to grow my game in the best way possible.
“We both come from aggressive styles of play, so he understands the mentality I have on court as well as the areas where I can improve.”
The British duo of Kyle Edmund and James Ward have also been given wildcards into the Eastbourne event.
South African-born Edmund, the world no444, became the youngest British player since Andy Murray to win a Futures event with the Birmingham, Alabama title in American crown in October 2012.
The 18-year-old, given a trio of wildcards by the LTA – for Queen’s, Eastbourne and Wimbledon – last month picked up the Junior French Open Doubles title to add to the 2012 Junior US Open Doubles crown.
Brought up in Yorkshire from the age of three, Edmund said: “This is only my second ATP World Tour event so I’m very excited to be playing against some of the world’s top players at Eastbourne.”
Great Britain Davis Cup stalwart Ward came close to breaking into the top 100 last April with a career-high world ranking of no137, and took American ace Mardy Fish to five sets at 2012 Wimbledon before bowing out.
The son of a London taxi driver, Ward’s best results and displays have been on the grass courts in England although he shocked Russian Dimitry Tursunov in April’s Davis Cup tie.
Ward, a 2010 AEGON International quarter-finalist, admitted: “I’m really looking forward to returning to Eastbourne, it’s the perfect opportunity to get in some matches ahead of Wimbledon.”
Provisional eight seeds:
- 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)
Other provisional entrants:
- Julien BENNETEAU (France)
- Martin KLIZAN (Slovakia)
- Jarkko NIEMINEN (Finland)
- Viktor TROICKI (Serbia)
- Feliciano LOPEZ (Spain)
- Denis ISTOMIN (Uzbekistan)
- Radek STEPANEK (Czech Republic)
- Ivan DODIG (Croatia)
- Grega ZEMLJA (Slovenia)
- Bernard TOMIC (Australia)
- Fernando VERDASCO (Spain)
- James WARD (Great Britain)
- Kyle EDMUND (Great Britain)