Andy Murray eases fears over fitness before Queen's challenge
AEGON CHAMPIONSHIPS 2012
- Venue: Queen's Club, London
- Date: 11-17 June
Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC Two and the red button as well as BBC One HD and BBC HD. Coverage on BBC Radio 5 live and the BBC Sport website
Andy Murray says his fitness levels are fine heading into the Aegon Championships at Queen's Club.
The Scot, recently troubled by two separate back problems, begins his title defence against Nicolas Mahut or Guillermo Garcia-Lopez on Wednesday.
"I feel much better," Murray told BBC Sport. "The grass will probably be good for me. I've had a few good days practice here and it all feels good."
Britons James Ward, Jamie Baker, Oliver Golding and Liam Broady play on Monday.
All four have received wildcards, with Broady making his main tour debut in the second match on Court One against 14th seed Gilles Muller of Luxembourg.
Queen's Club winners who went on to triumph at Wimbledon
- 1981 - John McEnroe
- 1982 - Jimmy Connors
- 1984 - John McEnroe
- 1985 - Boris Becker
- 1995 - Pete Sampras
- 1999 - Pete Sampras
- 2002 - Lleyton Hewitt
- 2008 - Rafael Nadal
Baker faces 18-year-old US Open junior champion Golding, awarded a place in the draw for a second successive year, in the fourth match on Court Two.
The winner will face second seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who lost to Murray in last year's final.
The fifth match on Centre Court sees British number two Ward meet big-serving ninth seed Kevin Anderson of South Africa.
Currently 142nd in the world, Ward will slip down the rankings on Monday when the points earned from his run to the semi-finals last year drop off.
He beat Dan Cox, Stanislas Wawrinka, Sam Querrey and Adrian Mannarino before falling to Tsonga, and will be hoping for similar heroics this time around.
But the main attraction is top seed Murray and, having been given a first-round bye, he will discover Wednesday's opponent after Mahut faces Garcia-Lopez fourth on Court One.
"I do look forward to the grass-court season," said the 25-year-old, also the champion at Queen's in 2009. "You get into a normal routine, which can be different at other tournaments.
“This period is going to be important for my year, not just with Wimbledon but obviously with the Olympics after as well and the US Open comes round quick”
"I enjoy the next few months - I enjoy the tennis and you get to have all your friends and family around, so in that respect it's fairly relaxing.
"It has meant a lot to win the title two out of the last three years. To do well here is always the best possible preparation in the lead-up to Wimbledon."
Murray will work with coach Ivan Lendl for the entire grass-court season, the longest they have spent together since coming together at the start of the year.
He added: "This period is going to be important for my year, not just with Wimbledon but obviously with the Olympics after as well and the US Open comes around quick.
"The more time I can spend with him over the next few months the better. We've worked on many different things and he's very good fun, everyone is enjoying working with him."
Murray's potential third-round opponents include Broady, Muller and Grigor Dimitrov.
He is joined in West Kensington by four-time champions Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt, who plays Ivo Karlovic on Monday in a repeat of their memorable meeting at Wimbledon in 2004.
Hewitt was defending champion when he was stunned by 203-ranked Karlovic in the first round.
Roddick and Hewitt practised together on Saturday and will also team up in the doubles, having been drawn against Lu Yen-hsun and Sam Querrey in round one.
But world number nine Juan Martin del Potro has been forced to withdraw because of a left knee injury that hampered him during his French Open defeat by Roger Federer.