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Who could be the alternative champion?

A backhand shot by Thomas Berdych.
by William Denny
Friday 28 June 2013

Day Three at The Championships will go down as one of the craziest days in Grand Slam history that has included the exit of some of the game’s most long-standing talents. Roger Federer’s astonishing 7-6, 6-7, 5-7, 6-7 loss to Sergiy Stakhovsky – who in turn has made his maiden Wimbledon third round –and the retirement of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Marin Cilic coupled with first round defeats of Rafael Nadal and Stanislas Wawrinka, has left tennis enthusiasts searching for fresh faces to compete for this year’s Gentlemen’s Singles crown.

In the wake of a rollercoaster 48 hours at SW19, we review some of the players who have been bumped up the queue in search of Wimbledon glory.

Tomas Berdych - Although Berdych would have been acknowledged by some before a tennis ball was struck as a genuine contender for The Championships, the removal of five of the Top 10 – three of the top five – has effectively made the Czech the No.3 seed heading into the third round. The former Wimbledon runner-up in 2010 has been in good form at this year’s Championships having not dropped a single set and will now be seen as the main threat to interrupt the much fancied Murray versus Djokovic final. The 27-year-old could potentially face the world No.1 in the quarter-finals although the only previous time those two have met on grass – the 2010 Wimbledon semi-final – Berdych came out on top in emphatic fashion winning in straight sets (6-3, 7-6, 6-3).

Juan Martin Del Potro – The 2009 US Open Champion has been in solid form in this year’s Championships having seen off both Albert Ramos and Jesse Levine in straight sets. The 24-year-old has had a mixed season to date, particularly in the Slams whereby he was dismissed in the third round of the Australian Open in five sets by Jeremy Chardy and withdrew from Roland Garros due to a viral infection. A combination of authoritative and powerful stroke play with a dwindling number of top seeds from The Championships, the popular Argentine may see this year’s Wimbledon as an ideal chance to double his Grand Slam haul.

Richard Gasquet – Despite a tricky four set win over Japan’s Go Soeda, the French No.2 may be considered with an outside chance of claiming his first grand Slam title. With a relatively modest Grand Slam record, Gasquet’s best performance was back in 2007 at SW19 where he reached the semi-final, losing in straight sets to the eventual winner Roger Federer. For a player of his undoubted quality, the 27-year-old is surely at some stage going to make another serious impression in a Slam – will 2013 be his year?

Kei Nishikori, the No.11 seed is playing some of the best tennis of his career. The 23-year-old Japanese No.1 has cruised through to the third round having yet to drop a set and given this year’s circumstances he may fancy his chances of going deep into the second week.

No.15 seed Nicolas Almagro may seem an unusual choice as a Wimbledon contender given the 27-year-old has never reached a semi-final of a Grand Slam and his best run here has ended in the third round on four occasions. Yet the Spaniard is now the second-highest seed in the bottom half of the draw behind Briton Andy Murray and will feel that on his day, he could forge his way into at least his first Grand Slam semi-final.

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