Beyond the Big 3: Which other men have a shot at winning Wimbledon?

Beyond the Big 3: Which other men have a shot at winning Wimbledon?

Djokovic, Nadal and Federer are the clear favorites, but there are others who have a definite shot.

 

The heavy favorites for the men’s title at Wimbledon will be the top three players in the world—Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer—and that’s with good reason. Between them, they’ve won every Wimbledon since 2003, with the exception of 2013 and 2016, when Andy Murray, no slouch himself, claimed the top prize.

Last year, Kevin Anderson and John Isner threatened to break up that dominant streak, before a 50-game fifth set impaired the South African, who lost the final to Djokovic in straight sets. While those two have had minimal match play over the past few months, they remain contenders given their grass-friendly serves. But they aren't the only players who have a chance to overtake the ruling class at the All England Club.

Here’s a look at 10 players that could buck tradition at this tradition-laden event, and find themselves lifting the gold at the end of the fortnight.

Dominic Thiem

The world No. 4 has played Wimbledon five times in his career and has a 5-5 record to show for it. However, he’s not without any grass-court bonafides: In 2016, the Austrian won the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart, Germany, where he defeated none other than Federer in the semifinals. Over the past several years, Thiem has established himself as one of the game's best clay-court players, with back-to-back French Open finals on his resume. But remember his breakthrough on hard courts earlier this year, when he beat Federer in the Indian Wells final for the biggest title of his career. Perhaps another major milestone will be reached on the grass.

Stefanos Tsitsipas

Stylistically, the young Greek is a Grand Slam champion waiting to happen. Possessing an all-court game reminiscent of Federer’s, Tsitsipas has been a revelation over the past two years. In 2019, he’s already reached four finals, winning two, and he made his first semifinal showing at a major in Melbourne. His Australian Open run came to an end at the hands of Nadal, who stopped him for the third straight time in their encounters. But Tsitsipas emphatically ended the skid on clay this year in Madrid to complete his set of victories against the Big 3. Currently ranked a career-high No. 6, Tsitsipas recently fell in the quarterfinals at Queen’s Club, but has shown already in his burgeoning career that he’s learned to manage the ebbs and tides of the professional tour.

Alexander Zverev

It’s been a rather intriguing year for the German. He’s won only one tournament so far and has suffered through a number of early-round losses, including in both of the grass-court events he’s entered. Those turf tournaments, in Stuttgart and Halle, marked the 12th and 13th tournaments he’s contested in a row, an unusually high amount for an elite player. Is he searching for confidence? Perhaps the best active player to never reached a Grand Slam semifinal, there’s little doubt that Zverev is due for a major breakthrough at some point. Despite the current state of his game, he can’t be overlooked at Wimbledon. 

Daniil Medvedev

Though he has yet to crack the Top 10, it could be argued that Medvedev is the best of the young Russians making an impact in the men’s game. Since 2018, he’s reached six singles finals, winning four of them. Traditionally at his best on faster surfaces, Medvedev showed tremendous strides in his game with a stronger-than-expected clay-court stretch this year, with a final in Barcelona the highlight. That momentum didn’t carry over to Roland Garros, where he fell in the first round. After another opening-round loss in Stuttgart on grass, he made a semifinal run at Queen’s Club, building up momentum for Wimbledon, where his powerful game can do more damage.

Borna Coric

It takes an effort of near-monumental proportions to defeat Federer in Halle, as the Swiss has dominated the grass-court event over the past 15 years. One of his few losses there came at the hands of Coric in last year's final, which vaulted the Croatian to the top of the Wimbledon dark-horse list. However, Coric was unable to build upon that result, falling in the first round to Medvedev in straight sets. As he set out to defend his Halle title this year, a back injury forced him to retire in the quarterfinals. Provided he’s healthy, though, Wimbledon can once again be the setting for him to join some of his countrymen as major champions.

Marin Cilic

Here's one of those countryman. Over a 10-year stretch, Cilic reached the fourth round or better at the All England Club six times, culminating with a run to the final in 2017, the second time in his career he played for a Grand Slam title. The 2014 US Open champion was stopped by Federer in that match, and again by the Swiss in the 2018 Australian Open final Croatia’s standard-bearer for the bulk of his career, Cilic fell in the second round at Wimbledon last year, and has had a shaky campaign in 2019—most recently evidenced by his early loss at Queen’s Club, where he was the defending champion, to Diego Schwartzman. Despite a recent bout of inconsistency, he’s a player who’s demonstrated he knows what it takes to succeed at the Grand Slam level.

Milos Raonic

Who knows how many majors Canada’s top player would have by now if his body had cooperate? The 2016 Wimbledon runner-up missed the entire clay-court season, but returned to action on grass in Stuttgart, where he reached the semifinals. However, he was forced to withdraw from the tournament at that stage due to injury. His follow-up appearance at Queen’s Club ended in a third-set tiebreak loss to Feliciano Lopez, but despite that, he’s definitely among the players no one at the top wants to see in their section of the draw.

Felix Auger-Aliassime

In his first grass-court tournament as a professional, Auger-Aliassime reached the final in Stuttgart. The Canadian teenager followed that up with a run to the semifinals at Queen's Club, continuing his grass-court surge. He's also reached two finals on clay in 2019 and made it to the semifinals at the Miami Open, on hard courts. With the results he’s posted so far, it’s nearly impossible to determine what’s actually his best surface. He’s passed many tests, with Grand Slam play being the exception: Auger-Aliassime has only played one match at that level, which came last year at the US Open. His Wimbledon debut will be eagerly watched, and he'll be eager to make an impact on the draw.

Matteo Berrettini

Perhaps it’s the fact that the surfaces are more uniform across the board than they’ve traditionally been. Or it could be that everything is clicking at just the right time. Whatever the case, Berrettini—seemingly out of nowhere—has established himself as a player to beat on grass in 2019. The Italian captured his second title of the season in Stuttgart, and his torrid form continued into Halle, where he made the semis. The 23-year-old will be entering Wimbledon at a career-high No. 20 the rankings, poised to improve upon his second-round finish last year in his main-draw debut.

Nick Kyrgios

Just imagine a world where the Australian was truly focused on winning Grand Slams: Wimbledon would be the perfect place to demonstrate the full range of his abilities. Kyrgios’ first major statement as a pro came at the 2014 edition of the tournament, when the then-19-year-old—in his main-draw debut—defeated two-time winner Nadal en route to the quarterfinals. Kyrgios followed that up with back-to-back fourth-round finishes, but hasn’t gotten that far since. He won’t be coming in this year with much momentum,  going just 1-2 in two grass-court events. Still, though, he’s as capable of winning Wimbledon as he is of losing in the first round. His on-court fate, as always, is almost entirely in his hands.