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Stuttgart To Be A Grasscourt Stop Next Year And Stich And McEnroe Try It Out






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 preparation series.

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."

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