Wimbledon 2013: Andy Murray and Stars with Most to Lose

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIJune 29, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 28:  Andy Murray of Great Britain hits a forehand during his Gentlemen's Singles third round match against Tommy Robredo of Spain on day five of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 28, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

With all the volatility atop both the men's and women's draw at the 2013 Wimbledon Championships, this Grand Slam tournament is extremely unique in a number of ways.

For a star such as Andy Murray, who is counted on as Great Britain's hope to finally win the top prize in London, it would be a massive disappointment if he didn't reach the final.

Given the lesser opposition ahead of him and the fact he lost to seven-time Wimbledon winner Roger Federer in last year's finals showdown, he would be the big name with the most to lose if he falters moving forward.

However, the sudden exits of many of the sport's best players present incredible opportunities for other prominent players who may not be household names today, but are fully capable of holding their own among the world's best.

Note: Statistics and information are courtesy of Wimbledon.com. Rankings and prior results were obtained from ATPWorldTour.com and WTATennis.com.

 

Andy Murray (2)

Especially since Murray topped Federer at this venue in the Summer Olympics to win the gold medal in 2012 after his run at Wimbledon, he would have a ton to lose.

Meeting No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the final almost has to be inevitable—even with the craziness that has transpired in SW19 thus far.

Murray certainly has a fan in CNN's Piers Morgan, who feels confident that the crowd favorite will break through for his second major win and first Wimbledon trophy:

The draw almost couldn't be easier, because Murray's highest-seeded opponent ahead of a prospective final with Djokovic will be in his very next match against No. 20 Mikhail Youzhny.

As Owen Gibson of the Guardian pointed out on Saturday, the Russian tends to have a rambunctious and volatile personality and is known for smashing his racquet. On one occasion, according to the report, he even gashed his own head.

Humor or inner mental travails aside, if Youzhny is meant to be Murray's most substantial resistance ahead of Wimbledon's ultimate stage this side of Fernando Verdasco, it truly would be a shock to see Murray fall flat.

 

Sloane Stephens (17)

The 20-year-old phenom is the highest-ranked American player other than Serena Williams still remaining on the women's side—and she wouldn't have to face the six-time Wimbledon champion until the final.

Stephens showed brilliance when she beat Williams at the Australian Open this year, but she struggles with consistency. She endured quite the arduous three-set match against Petra Cetkovska.

After winning the first set in a tiebreak 7-6, she imploded against the 196th-ranked player in the world and lost 6-0.

After taking a 2-0 lead to begin the third, though, Cetkovska came crashing down to earth, charitably spotting Stephens three double faults en route to losing 6-4.

That was only the third round, but the most formidable potential foe left in Stephens' way is No. 8 seed Petra Kvitova. The gap between her and Stephens at 17th seems sizable, but Stephens has plenty of game to get past whomever she encounters.

First, Stephens has to advance, and in the Round of 16 she has another unseeded opponent in Monica Puig.

A loss there would be devastating, but a strong run at the All England Club would give Stephens' career a huge jolt.

 

David Ferrer (4)

Starting with this tournament last year in which Ferrer reached the quarterfinals, the Spaniard has been playing the best tennis of his career.

Ferrer's fitness is incredible, and it served him well in a grueling five-set epic in Round 3 against Alexandr Dolgopolov. Despite being down two sets to one, the 31-year-old veteran didn't panic and proceeded to blow out his opponent 6-1, 6-2 thereafter.

The powerful Juan Martin del Potro may present problems in the quarterfinals, but Ferrer is in a position to get to yet another Grand Slam semifinal—which would be his fourth straight and fifth out of six.

Losing at any point before that would be a letdown, to say the least.

With the way Tommy Haas' resurgence is going, even top seed Novak Djokovic may not be safe in the fourth round. It's conceivable that Ferrer could squeak by the top-seeded Djokovic if he's off and they meet in the semifinals. Not even reaching that stage, though, would continue the theme of marquee players falling.

Having said that, Ferrer has gone against the grain and played better than ever at such a late point in his career, so with Federer and Rafael Nadal out, this is a great chance for him to succeed at a Grand Slam again.