Wimbledon 2013: Little-Known Players Making Early Noise at All England Club

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IJune 26, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 24:  Steve Darcis of Belgium celebrates match point during his Gentlemen's Singles first round match against Rafael Nadal of Spain on day one of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 24, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

The first week at the Wimbledon Championships is as much about little-known players having an opportunity to prove themselves as it about superstars reaching top form.

Lukas Rosol shocked the world a year ago at SW19 in what many thought was a once-in-a-lifetime upset. Unfortunately for Rafael Nadal, that stunning loss to Rosol in 2012 proved to be a sign of things to come, as he was bounced by a man with a not-so-household name in the opening round this year.

Steve Darcis will be the name and player that comes to mind whenever Wimbledon 2013 is brought up. The Belgian went from unknown to giant killer in three hard-fought sets. But he isn't the only overachiever in London.

Here we'll highlight a few little-known players who are making early noise at the All England Club this summer.


Steve Darcis

Unknown Belgian Steve Darcis made noise on Day 1 that is still being heard and felt around the All England Club. 

The 29-year-old pulled off the shocker of the tournament when he defeated two-time Wimbledon winner Rafael Nadal in straight sets in Round 1. Darcis recorded 53 winners for the match, including 13 aces.

He also won 74 percent of his first-serve points while stealing 39 percent of Nadal's service points. The loss was the first of Rafa's career in the opening round of a Grand Slam tournament.

Darcis' run isn't over just yet, though. He'll take on Lukasz Kubot next for a spot in the third round. 


Madison Keys

Unseeded American teenager Madison Keys is off to a scorching-hot start in London this summer. The 18-year-old took out 21-year-old British player Heather Watson in straight sets in Round 1, winning 74 percent of her first-serve points in the process.

Keys was just as impressive in the return game, breaking Watson five times and winning 47 percent of her receiving points for the match.

The graph below shows just how much more aggressive Keys was than her opponent:

This is the teenager's first time competing in the main draw at the All England Club, so the experience she gained from her first-round victory is all she has to this point.

She is a name to know moving forward, however. Her powerful serve and ground strokes make her a force to be reckoned with on this surface.


Daniel Brands

German Daniel Brands is probably best known as the man who took the first set off Rafael Nadal in the opening round of the French Open earlier this year, but after his first-round performance against Daniel Gimeno-Traver, he's one of the many underrated players making noise in SW19.

Despite going down two sets to one after losing consecutive tiebreaks, Brands battled back, winning 52 percent of his receiving points in the fourth set and 94 percent of his first-serve points in the fifth to win the last two frames and the match.

The most impressive stat for Brands was that he was able to save all four of Gimeno-Traver's break point chances in the match.

Brands will have a phenomenal opportunity to make some more noise in the second round on Thursday against seventh-seeded Tomas Berdych. The top-ranked Czech lost in the first round here a year ago.


Karolina Pliskova

Twenty-one-year-old Czech female Karolina Pliskova entered the All England Club ranked just 77th in the world, but she's already made some early noise, upending 13th-seeded Russian Nadia Petrova in straight sets in the opening round.

Pliskova lost her only previous match at Wimbledon in the first round in 2012, but was able to overwhelm her veteran opponent, smashing 32 winners for the match while committing just half a dozen errors.

A two-time Wimbledon quarter-finalist, Petrova shockingly had no answer for Pliskova's serve. 

The 6'1" Pliskova put 73 percent of her first serves into the box and won an incredible 92 percent (33-of-36) of her first-serve points for the match.

The talented Czech will have an excellent shot at reaching the third round as she'll take on unseeded Croatian Petra Martic in the second round. Martic is currently ranked just 141st in the world.


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