Wimbledon 2013: The Biggest Surprises from This Year's Grand Slam

Jeff Cohn@jeff_cohnCorrespondent IIIJuly 7, 2013

Wimbledon 2013: The Biggest Surprises from This Year's Grand Slam

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    The 2013 Wimbledon Championships have officially come to a close.

    Many great matches took place at the All England Club this fortnight, and some were much different than we expected.

    Top seeds were sent home, injuries were somehow common and a few unknown players were able to make big runs in the tournament.

    While this tournament may not be indicative of how the remainder of the tennis season will play out, it certainly showed us all that nothing is certain and anything can happen in the world of sport.

    Here are the top 10 biggest surprises from this year's Wimbledon.

Honorable Mention: Josh Berry's Rise to Fame

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    Josh Berry very well may have flown under your radar, but he has been featured on Wimbledon coverage cameras twice now.

    Here is another interview the high school junior did after Andy Murray's quarterfinal match with Fernando Verdasco.

    It's not every day that somebody gets a chance to be in the media spotlight in the latter stages of the men's championship, but Berry is a mild entertainer and certainly "does well under pressure."

    He does impressions of Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Richard Gasquet, David Ferrer and more. Check him out.

10. Kirsten Flipkens Reaching the Semifinals

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    Though Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium is a Top-20 player, I don't think anybody expected her to even reach the fourth round.

    She was able to make it all the way to the final four, dropping just one set on her way to that spot.

    This result was particularly surprising because she had not had any big successes whatsoever outside of this tournament. She and Lukasz Kubot on the men's side were the most unexpected quarterfinal players.

    Flipkens does not really have any weapons at all, though she moves well and can retrieve with a tricky backhand slice. Still, the draw opened up for her, and she capitalized on the opportunity to do way better in a major than she has before.

9. Americans Putting on Lackluster Performances

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    In the men's draw, all American men were eliminated prior to the third round.

    Tommy Haas, who has dual citizenship in Germany and America, reached the fourth round, but that is as far as it went.

    On the women's side, Serena Williams was upset by Sabine Lisicki in her fourth match.

    The only American woman to keep hopes alive was Sloane Stephens, who was taken out by eventual champion, Marion Bartoli, in the quarterfinals.

    But Stephens' run really wasn't as impressive as it seemed at the time. She faced no seeded players up until Bartoli, and every match but her first round went the distance.

    This was all surprising because the state of American tennis seemed to be in better shape than usual, but there was nothing at Wimbledon to indicate that it is on the rise or even steady at the moment.

8. Instances of Withdrawals and Retirement

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    Withdrawals and retirement were not unusual to see in the first week of the tournament.

    Players including Victoria Azarenka, John Isner, Radek Stepanek, Steve Darcis, Marin Cilic and Michael Llodra were all forced to pull out of matches in hopes that their future months would be healthy and promising.

    The upsets on both sides of the tournament were very odd to see but are always possible.

    However, this many injuries and problems regarding the physical aspect of tennis was even more unpredictable, and we will likely never see anything like it again.

7. Marion Bartoli Winning the Women's Title in Dominant Fashion

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    It's hard to say which was more surprising—Bartoli winning the title or the way in which she did it.

    Many tennis fans knew she was capable of big things, though this result was far beyond many people's imaginations.

    Her game is well-suited for all courts, and she had had success at Wimbledon in the past.

    She certainly played well enough to win at SW19—not only did she avoid dropping one set, but she was never even pushed to a tiebreak on the slick grass.

    Again, her final three opponents were Sloane Stephens, Kirsten Flipkens and Sabine Lisicki (if that is all it takes to win a major nowadays then more underdogs should be given a chance) but she never wobbled throughout the whole two weeks. Kudos to Bartoli, and she will now be in the Top 10.

6. Serena Williams Bowing out Early

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    Losing in the fourth round is not the worst thing in the world for most of the female athletes.

    But for Serena, it is the worst loss of her entire year.

    Sabine Lisicki snapped her 34-match winning streak and unnerved her opponent a great deal.

    After playing a magnificent second set and early third set to come back against Lisicki, the American superstar looked very nervous and played extremely tentatively.

    She could not gain an edge in her service games and was not as dominant in baseline exchanges, likely because there was much more at stake for her this time around.

    The defending champion lost many ranking points but is still the most dominant player on the women's tour.

5. Jerzy Janowicz Making His Mark on the World

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    Jerzy Janowicz, one of the most powerful players on tour, was destined for greatness even from his result in Paris several months ago.

    The young Pole made his way to the men's semifinals, and though it was no surprise to some people (such as myself) that he showed his skills against the world's best, he is now on everybody's mind and remains a player to watch out for in future tournaments.

    The only sets he lost en route to the semis were to Jurgen Melzer, but otherwise he played four straightforward, clean matches.

    He has barely been seen on the pro tour for more than a year, and that is why this result may have come off as surprising.

4. Sabine Lisicki Reaching the Final

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    Sabine Lisicki, known as a giant killer at Wimbledon, has always put on a good show but never performed this well.

    Playing in her first Grand Slam final, she let the nerves, expectations and erratic ground strokes get the best of her, but to even be in the women's final must have been a dream for her.

    The German power-hitter was not on any string of success coming into the tournament (notice the bizarre trend that occurred here) but took the court with a fresh mentality and really got herself going after taking out fellow big-server Serena Williams.

    Will the rest of her year be as successful or close to it? I doubt it, and that is another reason why this was so shocking.

3. Andy Murray Crushing Novak Djokovic in the Final

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    I predicted Andy Murray would beat his Serbian rival 6-4, 7-5, 2-6, 6-4. Though my Murray sets were perfectly accurate, and though Djokovic was on a roll after falling down 2-0 in the third set, the Scottish man cruised to a simple victory.

    He lost a set to Jerzy Janowicz as well as two (and nearly the whole match) to Fernando Verdasco, a man who usually does not challenge the eventual champion all that much, with the exception of Rafael Nadal in the 2009 Australian Open.

    Well done for Murray for ending the British drought, and although he "only" had to beat Novak Djokovic to win his two majors, he has been a deserving champion.

2. Rafael Nadal Going out Early Yet Again

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    Rafael Nadal won Wimbledon in 2008 but withdrew from the event the subsequent year due to injury.

    He took the title home yet again in 2010, but after participating in the 2011 final against rival Novak Djokovic, he has been lackluster at this tournament.

    Last year he lost to Lukas Rosol in the second round, and many spectators were dubbing it the biggest upset of all time—or at least of his career.

    Then, this year, he lost a round earlier to a man ranked even worse than Rosol was at the time. This loss also came in straight-sets fashion.

    His knee may have been a minor reason for the upset, but nobody could have expected to see anything like that, even with Steve Darcis playing his best match ever.

1. Roger Federer Losing in the Second Round

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    Roger Federer, much like Serena Williams, was the defending champion but could not even win two matches at the All England Club.

    The Swiss Maestro was outplayed for most of the match against Sergiy Stakhosky, who adopted a serve-and-volley mindset and tactic.

    The most disappointing part of the second-round encounter, other than the fact that Federer took the opening set, was that he could only break serve once (when it didn't even give him a lead).

    His conversion rate was incredibly poor, and the only break point he did well on was actually just a backhand slice return that caused Stakhovsky to dump the ball into the net.

    Another surprising statistic was that each of the four sets was very close, and Roger managed to lose three straight sets to lose the match. His mental strength usually lifts him above the lesser-ranked competition.

    Critics are now saying he should change rackets to one with a bigger head, and he is now playing extra clay-court tournaments in attempts to gain some momentum and ranking points. One must think he will bounce back with the way he always has done in his career, but this Wimbledon showed us that we cannot be certain of anything.