Wimbledon: Five men who could make the second week for the first time

 

The grass-court season lasts for only six weeks, perhaps explaining why many top-level pros struggle to make the adjustment from clay. Here are five players looking to make a breakthrough at SW19.

 

Dominic Thiem

Dominic Thiem

The Austrian has, since 2015, looked one of the most likely contenders to upset the established order and at the age of 23 is playing some of the finest tennis of his career. A grass-court title at Stuttgart in June last year demonstrated that he has the attributes to be successful on the surface, but he has yet to show that at SW19, having only made the second round in the last two years. His preparation for Wimbledon has not been ideal, after suffering a shock defeat on Tuesday to world number 222 Ramkumar Ramanathan in Antalya. However, if the right-hander can rekindle the form that saw him demolish Novak Djokovic in Paris earlier this month, he will be an irresistible force.

 

Alexander Zverev

Alexander Zverev1

The lanky German has already surpassed the achievements of his brother Mischa, who is nine years his senior. However, the 20-year-old has yet to realise his potential in the Grand Slams, with the third round his best-ever finish at the All England Club. Despite his lack of success on grass, Zverev has begun to turn the corner recently, reaching the final in Halle and beating Roberto Bautista Agut and Richard Gasquet along the way. However, he came up against an imperious Roger Federer in the final, who swatted him aside 6-1, 6-3, underlining that he has a lot of work to do before being talked about in the same reverence as the Swiss maestro. One to keep an eye on though.

 

Gael Monfils

Gael Monfils

Amazingly, the miracle man with the elastic legs has never contested the second week at Wimbledon. Known for his incredible athleticism and exuberant shot-making, Monfils has always been a crowd-pleaser, but he has had a tendency to lose his composure in the important matches. The 30-year-old has yet to reach a final on the Tour this year, but could break that duck this week having moved into the last four of Eastbourne following victories over British prospect Cameron Norrie and the rangy Australian Bernard Tomic. Given his unpredictable nature, it is difficult to know which Monfils will turn up, but his semi-final showing at the US Open last year suggests that he cannot be discounted.

 

Jack Sock

Jack Sock

It is a sad indictment of men’s tennis in the United States that their top player lies just inside the top 20, but Sock is certainly a man who has aspirations to reduce that ranking to single figures. The 24-year-old has made encouraging progress in the past few years, with 2017 undoubtedly being the Nebraskan’s high water mark, after scooping first prize in Delray Beach and Auckland. Success on grass has been elusive thus far in his career, but somewhat suprisingly for an elite singles player Sock also excels in doubles and sensationally partnered Vasek Pospisil to the Wimbledon title three years ago, defeating the top-seeded Bryan brothers. Sock and Pospisil were unseeded.

 

John Isner

John Isner

Despite his intimidating serve and powerful groundstrokes, John Isner has found the third round his ceiling at Wimbledon. At 32, the Florida resident is certainly not a youngster, but the likes of Federer and Serena Williams have shown that you can still play at the top of your game into your mid-thirties. The University of Georgia graduate has claimed two grass-court titles in his career, both in Newport, Rhode Island. However, his most well-known achievement on the surface was defeating Frenchman and now friend Nicolas Mahut back in 2010 in what is the longest match in tennis history, with Isner dragging himself to victory in a marathon final set that finished 70-68.

Images (from top to bottom): Julian Finney/Getty Images, Thomas Starke/Bongarts, Australian Open, Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe, Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

Featured image: Glyn Kirk/Getty Images

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