The year of the underdog as Wimbledon outsiders defy odds and expectations to reach third round

Dustin Brown’s victory over Rafael Nadal yesterday was hailed as the greatest performance seen by a low-ranked player on Centre Court.

But Brown is not the only underdog to be causing a stir at Wimbledon this year with players from outside the world’s top 100 regularly causing upsets against higher-ranked and much-fancied opposition.

There are four players ranked 100 or lower left in the last 32 of the men’s draw and three in the women’s.

Here we take a lot at how they got this far and if they can keep shocking the bookmakers.

Dustin Brown – Ranked 102

The 31-year-old German qualifier and proud owner of Wimbledon’s best barnet sent tremors across the sporting world yesterday by dumping out Nadal on Centre Court.

He rolled back the years with a dazzling assault of serve and volley tactics that were reminiscent of John McEnroe’s era and earned him the acclaim of the crowd.

It’s hard to imagine that only a week ago he was qualifying in Roehampton in front of a handful of onlookers, but tomorrow he can expect a new legion of dreadlocked devotees when he steps out against 22nd seed Victor Troicki.

James Ward – Ranked 111

All eyes are descending on 25-year-old Ward as he enters the third round on home turf for the first time.

The Davis Cup star and close friend to Andy Murray had fortune on side when his first round opponent and seventh-seed, David Ferrer, pulled out with an elbow injury, leaving him to face ‘lucky loser’ Luca Vanni.

He swept him and Jiri Vesely aside in the opening two rounds and now faces a likely show court showdown with Vasek Pospisil, an opponent he beat in 2011.

Denis Kudla – Ranked 105

Kudla, 22, appears at home on English grass with the American reaching his first third round of any Grand Slam.

Kudla’s successful run up to Wimbledon, which saw him reach both finals in the Aegon Challenger tournaments at Surbiton and Ilkley, earned him his wild card to Wimbledon.

He meets Colombian Santiago Giraldo today, who despite being ranked 45 places higher, is tipped to lose on Court 18.

Nikoloz Basilashvili – Ranked 153

Unless you’re from Georgia, 23-year-old Nikoloz Basilashvili isn’t someone you will be familiar with.

The qualifier is the lowest-ranked player remaining in the gentlemen’s draw, beating 16th-seed Feliciano Lopez in five sets yesterday.

This is Basilashvili’s first time qualifying for the Championships but he will hope to continue his remarkable run when he faces another tough Spanish seed in Roberto Bautista Agut tomorrow.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands – Ranked 158

Representing America’s underdog for the ladies is 30-year-old qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who impressively sent seventh-seed Ana Ivanovic packing in the second round.

Mattek-Sands now faces the new star in Swiss tennis, and Eastbourne champion, Belinda Bencic in the third round today.

Mattek-Sands is normally a doubles specialist, having won both Australian Open and French Open titles this year, but will look to transfer that success into the singles.

Kristyna Pliskova – Ranked 134

Wild card Czech Kristyna Pliskova, 23, gained bragging rights by going further at Wimbledon than her 11-seed twin sister Karolina, who was knocked out in the second round. (Kristyna is on the right above)

Kristyna, who stole the limelight last night with a terrific win over former US and French Open champion Svetlana Kutznetsova, ranked 109 places higher than her, now faces Monica Niculescu.

Olga Govortsova – Ranked 122

Belarusian Govortsova, 26, hard to work hard just to get to Wimbledon as she came through three qualifying rounds.

But match practise seems to be key as she has already knocked out the dangerous 25th-seed Alize Cornet.

Govortsova’s third round match-up is against Slovakian Magdalena Rybarikova and she will going into it knowing she has a good chance of extending her Wimbledon fairytale.

Feature image courtesy of Wimbledon, via Youtube, with thanks

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