Wimbledon 2013: Showcasing Under-the-Radar 1st-Round Matches at All England Club
All eyes will be glued to the Big Four and Serena Williams when the 2013 Wimbledon Championships get underway this summer from the All England Club in London.
But what about the field?
There are a handful of intriguing first-round matchups scheduled for the first few days at SW19 in both the men's and women's draw. Some with excellent upset potential.
Here we'll showcase a trio of under-the-radar opening-round matches that could go either way.
It's been seven years since Marcos Baghdatis reached the semifinals at Wimbledon. But his first-round opponent in 2013, 10th-seeded Marin Cilic, has never been past the fourth round at the All England Club, setting the stage for what should be an epic opening battle, via Live Tennis:
But before that..there's some great rd1 matches. Wawrinka-Hewitt should be fantastic! Tomic-Querrey & Cilic-Baghdatis also worth watching— Live Tennis (@livetennis) June 21, 2013
The 26-year-old Cilic reached the Round of 16 here a year ago, but before that experienced back-to-back first-round exits to unseeded players. Keep that in mind heading into this clash with Baghdatis.
Since 2009, Baghdatis and Cilic have met five times, with Cilic leading the head-to-head 3-2. The two players have never before met on grass or at a Grand Slam, however.
Cilic may not have the results to suggest he can live up to his seed this summer, but at 6'6", the Croatian will have an advantage against most players as long as he can find consistency with his serve.
The winner of this matchup could have smooth sailing into the Round of 16, where he would likely meet up with sixth-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Laura Robson vs. Maria Kirilenko (10)
While the 10th-seeded Maria Kirilenko is coming off her first-ever quarterfinal appearance at Wimbledon, her first-round match in London in 2013 won't be easy.
Which player is the bigger threat to the rest of the women's field?
The 26-year-old Russian, who had never been past the third round at Wimbledon before last year, will open up the tournament against emerging teenager Laura Robson, who will be a crowd favorite playing in her home Slam.
Something to watch for will be Robson's movement on the fast-playing grass. She has been hampered by her inability to move side to side, but plays left-handed and boasts a dominant serve which could help her overcome her below-average lateral movement.
Robson, who turned 19 back in January, reached the fourth round at the 2012 U.S. Open last summer and has earned a berth in the women's main draw at Wimbledon for the fifth straight year. She reached the second round for the first and only time in 2011, upsetting Angelique Kerber in the first round as a wild card.
Oddly enough, if Robson can upset Kirilenko in this match, she'll have a fairly easy path to the Round of 16, where she would likely take on seventh-seeded Angelique Kerber.
Ryan Harrison vs. Jeremy Chardy (28)
Up-and-coming American Ryan Harrison will open up Wimbledon against 28th-seeded Frenchman Jeremy Chardy as he looks to reach the second round at the All England Club for the third straight year.
Meanwhile, Chardy, a quarter-finalist at the Australian Open back in January, is five years older than Harrison, but surprisingly only has two more match wins at Wimbledon for his career.
These two players met for the first and only time two years ago at Indian Wells, with Harrison earning an impressive three-set victory. If this match is anything like that one, which required not one, but two tiebreaks, the fans in attendance or tuning in will be in for a treat.
Although Chardy is the most accomplished of the two players, don't sleep on Harrison. Even though he's ranked just 84th in the world, he is a threat to anyone in the men's game. He pushed John Isner to the brink in the second round of the French Open last month, winning the first two sets before faltering late.
The winner of this opening-round match will be favored to advance in the following round and ultimately challenge top seed Novak Djokovic in the third round.
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.
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