Isner, Kvitova among the dark horses

It's clear who the favorites for Wimbledon are, but who else is lurking? Here's a look at which players might pull off an upset or make a run at this year's tournament.


Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

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Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is a huge hitter, but that doesn't necessarily mean success at the All England Club.

His big attacking game is a model of modern grass-court play, and he's capable of knocking out anyone when he's feeling it. But playing well is what he hasn't done in his past couple of big matches -- against David Ferrer in the French Open semifinals and Andy Murray in the Queen's Club quarterfinals -- and that needs to change if he wants to make a really big impact at this tournament.

Tomas Berdych

Like Tsonga, the 2010 finalist is a threat to anyone but has disappointed in some big matches this year. He still struggles with his movement on this surface, but then again, he doesn't need to move much when he's firing on all cylinders.  

Richard Gasquet

Playing on grass forces Gasquet to be more aggressive, offering glimpses of the player he could be. His fluid shots, particularly off the famed one-handed backhand, slide off the court like greased lightning. The Frenchman reached the semifinals in 2007, defeating Andy Roddick with some breathtaking play in the fifth set, but getting past the fourth round of a Slam is a hurdle for him -- all the more so after blowing a two-set lead to Stanislas Wawrinka at the French Open just two weeks ago.

Tommy Haas

Experience and shot-making count on grass these days, and Haas -- who, at 35, is as talented as ever -- has both. Last year's Halle champion, and a semifinalist this year, he also showed improved stamina in winning a long five-match duel with John Isner at the French Open and returning to win his next match, as well.

Marin Cilic

Tall, lean Croatians with big serves tend to do big things at Wimbledon, like Cilic's idol and supporter Goran Ivanisevic, who reached the final three times before winning the tournament in 2001. Although Cilic plays more from the baseline, he seems to take to grass. He won Queen's last year and reached the final this year, as well as outlasting Sam Querrey in a marathon third-round match at Wimbledon last year.

Milos Raonic

The 22-year-old is still a bit uncomfortable on grass, but he has all the weapons to do well on the surface. Raonic just hired new coach Ivan Ljubicic in an attempt to restart his progress after losing momentum in the past year.

John Isner and Sam Querrey

Despite his massive serve and willingness to volley, Isner has never been past the second round at Wimbledon. But those strengths mean he's also a danger to anyone he faces, probably in five very long sets. Compatriot Querrey, though, has been the more consistent performer at this tournament.

Feliciano Lopez

Big left-handed serve, slice backhand and net rushing. An unusual combination for a Spaniard, but an ideal one for grass. He has made the second week a few times, but comes in off a year plagued by wrist problems.

Lleyton Hewitt

Experience, again, counts for a lot now that grass is played on for only a few weeks of the season. Hewitt won Wimbledon in 2002, and, although he's now a long way removed from those days, this is a surface that continues to reward his speed and give his shots some of the sting they've lost elsewhere. That showed as the Australian produced his best performance in a year last week at Queen's.

Michael Llodra

As one of the very few serve-and-volleyers left on tour, he's in his element.

Nicolas Mahut

He returns to this year's event as a wild card and is unlikely to get very far, but the Frenchman who played the longest match ever with Isner will entertain with his willingness to dive for volleys and is at his best on grass.


Players who have been having good results no matter what the surface include Ernests Gulbis (who defeated Berdych in the first round last year and has pushed Rafael Nadal in the past), Jerzy Janowicz (his combination of big shots and drop shots could work well on grass), Grigor Dimitrov (whose game should grow into the surface eventually), Kei Nishikori (small and speedy can work well, too), as well as just about anyone over 30, it seems.


Petra Kvitova

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Once considered someone who could win multiple Slams, Petra Kvitova has struggled since her Wimbledon championship two years ago.

The 2011 champion should be right up there with the favorites, but erratic results since her title make it hard to tell which Kvitova will show up at the All England Club this year. Unlike most in the draw, however, she knows she's capable of going all the way.

Li Na

Her results at Wimbledon were better a few years ago, before she developed a taste for clay. But Li's clean, powerful groundstrokes are more suited to the grass than the crushed red brick she triumphed on two years ago at the French Open.

Caroline Wozniacki

The former No. 1 has been struggling mightily but likes grass and had good success at Wimbledon as a junior. Maybe the extra sting her shots get on the surface can help her turn things around.

Marion Bartoli

Her flat, angled two-fisted strokes serve her well on this surface, and she has good memories from reaching the final in 2007. Recent coaching turmoil won't help, but she did knock out Serena Williams in the 2010 quarterfinals, when the five-time champ was just coming back from a yearlong injury layoff.

Tamira Paszek

However her season is going -- usually badly -- she tends to find something extra for the grass and Wimbledon, reaching the quarterfinals in both of the past two years. A promising teen who has struggled to find a setup that works, Paszek still strikes the ball beautifully when she's playing well and can threaten all but maybe the top couple of players on this surface.

Sabine Lisicki

Famously unlucky with injuries, at least Lisicki has found good fortune at Wimbledon, reaching a semifinal and two quarterfinals in her past three appearances. Her big serve and big smile are just the right size for Centre Court.

Magdalena Rybarikova

She reached the semifinals at Birmingham last week, and her game is built for grass. But she has never shown it at Wimbledon, perhaps because she repeatedly has exhausted or injured herself by the time she arrives at SW19.

Daniela Hantuchova

One of the few players who calls grass her favorite surface, the Slovak veteran has yet to produce a big result at Wimbledon but comes in after winning a title at Birmingham this past week.

Tsvetana Pironkova

Top seeds don't usually gasp when they see her name beside theirs in the draw, except when it's a tournament on grass. Pironkova took out Venus Williams on her way to reaching the semifinals in 2010, then made the quarters the next year. Her unorthodox forehand and the added power she gets help explain her success on the lawns.

Kimiko Date-Krumm

The astonishing 42-year-old made the semifinals at Wimbledon back in 1996. She probably won't get very far in the draw this year, but her compact, flat strokes and her experience mean she can be more effective on this surface than any other these days.


Players who have been having all-around success this season include Kirsten Flipkens (whose variety and attacking mentality also suit the surface), Maria Kirilenko (no big weapon but gets extra power on grass) and just about every American.

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