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Unseeded & Looming: Seven Underdogs ready to bust their Wimbledon bracket
At what will likely be the strangest Championships in recent memory, fortune will favor the brave—particularly in the early rounds, where upset possibilities appear endless.
Published Jun 24, 2022
From presumptive favorite Novak Djokovic to sure bet Iga Swiatek, the very top of the game appears as strong as ever. Beneath the No. 1 seeds lie an entire garden of opportunity, one that 100-odd athletes will aim to cultivate over the course of an intriguing Wimbledon fortnight.
Check out seven names to know as they prepare to score some crucial opening-week upsets:
Harriet DART (GBR)
At a major all about who can’t play, focus must now return to those who can, and the Wimbledon warm-up swing has tipped quite a few Brits for home success. Most likely to make that happen is the 25-year-old Dart, who has come into her own in the last few weeks with quarterfinal finishes in Nottingham and Eastbourne. In a section flanked by American seeds Jessica Pegula and Shelby Rogers—both of whom prefer clay to grass—look for Dart to take over Centre Court as the first week unfolds.
Stan WAWRINKA (SUI)
An oldie but a goodie, the two-time Wimbledon quarterfinalist played his best match since coming back from foot surgery against Frances Tiafoe last week at Queen’s Club. The only major the 37-year-old Swiss never won, don’t expect 2022 to be the year he secures the Career Grand Slam, but Wawrinka can nonetheless make a splash against flagging youngster Jannik Sinner in the first round. The Italian former teenager is only playing his second Wimbledon and his lone warm-up ended in the first round to Tommy Paul.
If Stan the Man pulls off the upset on his least favorite surface, he could find himself back in the contender conversation on hard courts this summer.
Rebecca MARINO (CAN)
Is this Rebecca Marino’s moment? The inspiring Canadian has endured a long and uneven road back to elite tennis after missing almost a decade of action due to mental health struggles. A big server who Venus Williams once called a younger version of herself, the 31-year-old claimed three strong victories to qualify for Roland Garros last month.
Marino has won three of her five grass matches since Paris and pushed Jelena Ostapenko to three sets in Birmingham. Might she overpower No. 3 seed Ons Jabeur in the second round? Between Marino and Bianca Andreescu, Canada appears all but guaranteed to see some big things from their unseeded women.
Alexander BUBLIK (KAZ)
The Russian-born Bublik was never going to miss Wimbledon, having presciently switched to represent Kazakhstan at the start of his pro career, and the born entertainer will likely give grounds pass holders quite a show as he plots to better his third-round finish from 2021. Off his hated clay, the 25-year-old is rounding back into form with a quarterfinal run in Eastbourne and his first projected seed, No. 16 Pablo Carreño Busta, has never won a match at Wimbledon—in six previous attempts. In a section also anchored by Roland Garros runner-up Casper Ruud and the game’s second greatest showman looks primed for a first deep run at SW19.
Denis KUDLA (USA)
How healthy is Rafael Nadal heading into Wimbledon? America’s Denis Kudla may put the 22-time major champ through his biggest first-week test. A natural fit on grass, Kudla reached the fourth round in 2015 and pushed Novak Djokovic to a tiebreaker in the third round last year. He opens his 2022 campaign against No. 27 seed Lorenzo Sonego, who he already beat en route to the round of 16 in Queen’s Club, where he took a set from an on-fire Matteo Berrettini.
Born in Ukraine, the 29-year-old played Nadal for the first time earlier this year and acquitted himself well over two sets in Acapulco. Should he end the No. 2 seed’s quest for a Calendar Year Grand Slam, he’ll not only return to the second week but also secure himself a spot in the pantheon of all-time tennis trivia.
Marie BOUZKOVA (CZE)
From Martina Navratilova to Petra Kvitova, Czech women have long been a factor at the All England Club, and though COVID-19 threatened to wreck Bouzkova’s spring, the former US Open junior champ rebounded nicely in her first match since withdrawing from Roland Garros, playing three sets against Shelby Rogers and nearly winning an unforgettable doubles match against Serena Williams and Ons Jabeur. Bouzkova drew No. 7 seed Danielle Collins, who prefers a higher bounce, and after making steady improvements this spring, could take advantage of an uncertain section in the bottom half. At 23 years old, might Wimbledon be where she makes her first major third round?
Nick KYRGIOS (AUS)
Everyone knows his name, making Kyrgios the personification of “unseeded and looming.” With some seeing him an outside shot for the title, all eyes were on where the enigmatic Aussie would land in the draw. While No. 4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas may hope Filip Krajinovic maintains his peak form to knock Nick out in the second round, Kyrgios may prove too strong for both as he returns to the site of his first big breakthrough.
Mentally, the 27-year-old is as strong as ever, having finally struck a work-life balance that saw him skip the clay swing but show up tough at every tournament he plays. Emotionally, it’s more touch and go, but it’s in his physicality where the biggest question remains. He stole the show to start the tournament in 2021 only to pull up injured early in his third-round encounter with Félix Auger-Aliassime. Seven best-of-five matches may always prove too big of an ask, but the quarterfinals is beyond doable with a clean bill of health. And what a show that would be.