The classic clay of Stuttgart will give way to
grass in a year as the Mercedes Cup morphs onto the lawns, with a centre
court pitch laid down under the supervision of Wimbledon experts. The
new turf at the hilltop Weissenhof club overlooking the headquarter city
of Mercedes, even features its own inflatable green cover in the style
of the All England club.
The longtime summer clay stop will feature in
the first of the 2015 three-week run-up to Wimbledon, with the event
starting the day after the French Open final. It will be followed by
existing grass events in Halle, Germany and Queen's Club, London, with a
new event in Nottingham the week before Wimbledon wrapping up the
The calendar change cannot come soon enough for
John McEnroe, who dashed to the German city from London to play an
inaugural exhibition on the new grass with former rival Michael Stitch.
"As far back as the 1970s. we've been wanting that extra week. The
transition from clay to grass is difficult to make quickly.
"It's great for players and the event has the
chance to come before a big event instead of directly after one
(Stuttgart follows Wimbledon this week in its final clay edition."
McEnroe said he got his eye on grass in
preparation for his date with Stich by playing senior doubles with his
brother Patrick and hitting with a few juniors at Wimbledon outside of
his television commentary work. "The grass looks a lot greener here than
it did yesterday at Wimbledon. That court was really beaten up."
McEnroe and Stich won a memorable Wimbledon
doubles match together in 1992, finishing 19-17 in the fifth set. "It
was a great pity that we have played so late as doubles partners," said
McEnroe. "We actually made a great combination. We were both very
unhappy in singles but doubles made up for the disappointment."
In the exhibition, the 55-year-old American beat Stich 6-4, 5-7, 10-8
(match tiebreak) in front of 2,000 fans. “It was a lot of fun to play on
this court and the atmosphere was great," said McEnroe. “The change to
grass is a great opportunity for the MercedesCup," Stich added. "I
congratulate the tournament on this brave step."