Wimbledon 2012: Who Benefits the Most from Rafael Nadal's Early Exit?
Rafael Nadal's second-round upset at Wimbledon was his earliest exit in a major tournament since 2005. While the tennis world is trying to figure out how the presumptive finalist lost, there are several players and an eager nation salivating over Rafa's side of the bracket.
Attempts at remembering the last time an English player reached the men's finals at Wimbledon will leave most of us scratching our collective head. It hasn't happened since 1938 when Henry "Bunny" Austin lost to Don Budge.
The last winner from England was Fred Perry, who took the title from 1934-'36.
While replacing Perry's name in the record book will be a difficult step, Andy Murray has an excellent opportunity to reach the finals. He's the highest remaining seed (No. 4) on his side of the bracket.
His third-round opponent is Marcos Baghdatis, unseeded from Cyprus. Baghdatis reached the semifinals at Wimbledon in 2006, the same year he reached No. 8 in the Association of Tennis Players (ATP) rankings.
One of the biggest third-round matches features two seeded players, David Ferrer (No. 7) from Spain and American Andy Roddick (No. 30), a three-time finalist at Wimbledon. The winner will have the inside track to a potential quarterfinals match with Murray.
Should Murray, Ferrer or Roddick reach the semifinals, they would have a solid shot at advancing.
The next-highest seed after Murray is Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (No. 5). The 27-year-old out of France lost in the semifinals last year and likely welcomes seeing Lukas Rosol on the bottom of the bracket instead of Nadal.
Tsonga has a third-round match against Lukas Lacko. The winner will likely face American Mardy Fish (No. 10) in Round 4.
Fish reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon last year, and the 31-year-old would likely appreciate another chance to play Tsonga. The two met at the U.S. Open last September. An exchange over the volume and overall raucous nature of Tsonga's fans led a frustrated Fish to say, "I don't speak French, you dumbass."
Exactly whom the comment was directed at isn't clear, but Tsonga replied with, "I don't like you, too."
In a tournament where Nadal exited in his second match, nothing is certain. However, England has to be excited at the opportunity this opens up for Murray.
The United States also has a solid opportunity to place a player in the men's finals, but the significance pales in comparison to that sitting in front of the host nation.
The finals will likely include Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer, creating a steep challenge. However, just getting a player to the finals would be an accomplishment for England, as it would end a 76-year-old drought.
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