The start of men’s draw at Wimbledon 2012 has been met with great anticipation. The developing rivalry between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal has dominated discussion as well as the inevitable debate about Roger Federer’s chance of winning 7 titles at SW19. On top of this, Wimbledon will provide the British press with the chance to scrutinise every aspect of Andy Murray’s game before asking if it is finally his time to win.
So, the men in the top four are grabbing all of the headlines and will continue to do so, but who else can stand in their way?
Here are 5 players that could provide an upset this year:
He was the shock semi-finalist of last year, after his remarkable comeback from two sets down against Roger Federer. This year, his performances at the Australian Open and the French Open highlight the unpredictability of his game. In Melbourne, many were tipping him to beat the top seeds before he was knocked out early on by Kei Nishikori. Then at Roland Garros, he managed a good run into the quarter finals before losing out to Novak Djokovic. There is no doubt that has the flair to beat the best in the game. If he can reproduce the thumping groundstrokes that helped him to beat Federer last year Tsonga has every chance of progressing to the semi-finals and further.
The 21-year-old Canadian has had a steady 2012 season so far, with 26 wins this year. Raonic is one of the emerging talents in the game and after a disappointing third-round exit against Juan Monaco at the French Open, he will be looking to stamp his authority in a Grand Slam tournament. After his second round exit at SW19 last year, due to a serious hip injury, Raonic can will be looking to greatly improve upon that result. His serve is his most potent weapon, and can help him deep into the Wimbledon draw this year. With Roger Federer among the men singing his praises, he could be one to watch.
The American may come to Wimbledon with some trepidation. He arrives at SW19 on the back of another marathon match against Paul-Henri Mathieu at the French Open, which he lost after five hours and 41 minutes. With this in mind, there is also the potential of a second-round match-up with Nicolas Mahut, rekindling memories of their historic encounter in 2010. If he can avoid an epic battle in the early rounds Isner can upset the players at the top end of the draw. His serve certainly will give him an immediate advantage against any of his opponents on grass.
The 2010 runner-up has not played a spectacular year of tennis. However, if he can reach the peak of his aggressive game, Berdych could repeat his previous success. His year started controversially after his refusal to shake Nicolas Almagro’s hand after beating his opponent to reach the quarter finals. He has settled down since then, making the finals at the controversial Madrid clay tournament before losing to Federer. Although he has beaten players at the top before, the Czech’s mental temperament will be key if he is to win against them at Wimbledon.
He is another young talent that is on his way to the top of the game. Last year, the then 18-year-old novice reached the quarter-final stage at Wimbledon before challenging Novak Djokovic in a four set loss. Tomic is a player already gaining the headlines at home (both for his performance on and personality off the court) but everyone is waiting for his game to match expectations. Regardless of this, the grass courts at Wimbledon could be his time to shine.
With great expectations becoming a potential burden on the top four, perhaps one of these five could capitalise and beat of the favourites to win at Wimbledon this year. It will be a tough challenge for anyone to play against the likes of Djokovic and Nadal, but if they have the belief anything can happen.