It would be quite welcome,too. Since Wimbledon 2003, only Andy Roddick, Juan Martin Del Potro, Stanislas Wawrinka and Andy Murray have been able to intrude on the slam winning ways of Federer, Nadal and Djokoivic. A new face would bring new dynamics, and add to the depth of future slams.
Tomas Berdych will be among those looking to take advantage of the big four’s issues. He has been to the Wimbledon final in 2010, beating two of the big four in Djokovic and Federer, and he has been playing some of his best tennis this season. A few points here and there in the Melbourne semis against Wawrinka and it could have been Berdych in the final against an injured Nadal and then who knows what might have happened to the Czech’s career.
Behind Berdych, a host of next big things will be itching to get their hands on the trophy. Perhaps the one most ready is Milos Raonic. Ranked world no.8 and with the biggest serve in the game, Raonic is proving to be both consistnent and more of a force from the back of the courts than in previous years. He recently made the French Open quarters, has improved his ground and return game and has the experience and skills to make the next step. He also has a valuable weapon on grass in his serve and has a nice draw with the vulnerable Nadal in his quarter.
Dimitrov, ranked 13, is also getting better and better as each month passes, though his slam results are patchy. But an early loss at the French might pay dividends at SW19. The extra fortnight of grass court practice seemed to have paid off in the form of the Queen’s title and that experience and match play could see him challenge for the title. The world no.13 certainly has the game to go all the way and is widely tipped to make the final.
Another player of whom great things are expectec is Kei Nishikori who made the semis in Halle, pushing Federer to a second set breaker. If he makes it to the second week, his solid ground court game and attacking style could see him go far.
Finally, perhaps the biggest dark horse of the event is Marin Cilic. The big serving aggressive Croat not only has his huge game as a weapon, he has Goran Ivanisevic, too. This year has been a good one for Cilic after the drug ban which saw him miss four months of the year. Two titles and a final in Rotterdam, and some strong performances against Djokovic in Miami and Roland Garros suggest that if he can keep focused, he has as good a chance as anyone to lift the title.
If it is not a new face who takes the title then perhaps this year, the men’s event might see something similar to what occured in last year’s women’s tournament when Marion Bartoli took the title. Players of the quality of Gasquet. Lopez and Stepanek all have fine grass court games and have been around long around to be able to take advantage should the draw fall apart and opportunities knock just as Bartoli did so shockingly a year back. Gasquet in particular could make a serious run. The Frenchman who was widely tipped to challenge Nadal at the top of tennis when both were juniors has been to the semi-finals before and has a beautiful backhand, some of the finest hands in the game and has been through enough in his career to draw on for strength should he find himself in a career-making position at the business end of the fortnight.
With the state of the top four being as shaky as it is, and with the current crop of bright young things creeping up behind them, and some veterans stil hanging around waiting for their chances, this Wimbledon could be the one to see a new face break through, just as Wawrinka did in Australia and Murray at the ’12 US Open, or an old one put a glorious finishing touch to a career. That prospect should certainly be one to keep the tennis world glued to their screens over the next two weeks eager to see just who will rise to the challenge of prizing the greatest prize in tennis from the hands of the elite.