Lukas Rosol defeated No. 2 Rafael Nadal in the second round of Wimbledon 2012.
The top seeds at Wimbledon are crumbling left and right, leaving the door wide open for an unknown champion. Chalk it up to something in the All England Club’s strawberries and crème, but this year looks to be the year of the underdog.
So who exactly are these underdogs? Some are names you may have seen before—players who have fallen out of favor with the Tennis gods and are trying to climb their way back up—and some are names you have never heard of. Those are the players who have entered the spotlight after dethroning some of the greats in tennis today.
So, let’s take a look at the underdogs of Wimbledon 2012 and introduce you to the names you’ll want to remember for the rest of the tournament.
There’s a very good chance you’ve never heard of Lukas Rosol, but after taking down No. 2 Rafael Nadal in the second round of Wimbledon 2012, he’s a name you’ll be hearing for a while.
The 26-year-old Czech is ranked No. 100 in the world, but he played like the No. 1 in the world. Rosol swung for the fences against Nadal, and with the help of Lady Luck, all of his shots dropped in.
Maybe it was beginner's luck or his lack of experience at Wimbledon (it’s his first appearance at the All England Club this year), but Rosol seemed unaffected by the immense pressure and even the rain break. What’s more interesting is that Rosol failed to qualify for Wimbledon for the past five years.
So how did a guy like Rosol take down an 11-time Grand Slam tournament winner?
Rosol hit harder. It’s unusual to have a power match on grass, but when Rafa hit a hard ball, Rosol hit harder. Eventually, Rosol tired Rafa out, and took the second round 6-7(9), 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.
Although Mikhail Youzhny is ranked in the top 30 (he’s No. 26), he gains underdog status after upsetting No. 8 Janko Tipsarevic in the third round of Wimbledon 2012.
The Russian won the match 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, although the two players' statistics were almost identical. Youzhny and Tipsarevic went 38-37 in winners, 14-18 in unforced errors, but where Youzhny really stood out over the Serb was his first serve. The Russian won 83 percent of his first serves, which ultimately sent him to the top.
Youzhny will need to continue to impress against No. 18 Richard Gasquet in the fourth round because, once again, he’ll be the underdog. Definitely a must-see match.
Sam Querry was once ranked No. 17 in the world, but after being sidelined from Wimbledon and the U.S. Open by elbow surgery in 2011, he slipped to No. 125. Querry is now fighting to make his way back to the top, although the road has been a bit bumpier than he expected.
The American is entering Wimbledon 2012 as No. 72, but after taking down No. 21 Milos Raonic 6-7(3), 7-6(7), 7-6(8), 6-4, his ranking should improve. Although Raonic leads the ATP with the most aces, it was Querry who won point after point because of an amazing first serve.
Querry is more fired up than ever now, leaving his leisurely style of play at the gates of the All England Club, and is trying to climb back up to be one of the top players in tennis.
Xavier “the seed-slayer” Malisse has been taking down ranked players left and right during Wimbledon 2012.
In true underdog fashion, Malisse has been playing with heart rather than skill. Although he was once ranked in the top 20, Malisse has gotten a little bit older (he’s 31 years old now), and a little bit slower because of it. Nevertheless, he’s producing wins, and he'll undoubtedly bring that fire and passion to his match against Federer.
Brian Baker is the ultimate underdog. He first made a name for himself in the 2012 French Open and is continuing his comeback at Wimbledon 2012.
What’s more interesting is that Baker beat Xavier Malisse in the first round of the French Open. Since Malisse's loss to Baker, he’s been trying to climb his way back to the top at Wimbledon (hence why he made this list), and Baker finally made a name for himself.
The 27-year-old American spent six years away from the game after physically breaking down. Baker underwent five major surgeries, including his left hip twice, right hip, sports hernia and a Tommy John elbow procedure.
Baker has been on fire in 2012, reaching the finals at the ATP Open in Nice, qualifying for the French Open and now qualifying for his first Wimbledon. The underdog of the year has reached the Round of 16 at the All England Club and will play No. 27 Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Stay tuned for more on this American and let’s see how far he can ride this comeback wave.