2014 Wimbledon: Dark-Horse Players to Watch in 1st Round

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2014 Wimbledon: Dark-Horse Players to Watch in 1st Round
Tom Dulat/Getty Images

Tennis is in the midst of a transitional era.

As players like Roger Federer and the Williams sisters age, the door has opened for new faces to break through. Wimbledon is the grandest stage in tennis, and it is the perfect place for a player to put his or her name in the public conscious.

Here are four dark-horse players to watch in the first round.

 

Men's

Grigor Dimitrov

Sang Tan/Associated Press
Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria holds up the trophy after winning the Aegon Championship

The 23-year-old Bulgarian has been making waves in the tennis world. Besides dating Maria Sharapova, Grigor Dimitrov has also been playing extremely well. This year, Dimitrov has won three singles tournaments, the latest being the Aegon Championships, which is played on grass.

His first-round matchup will be against Ryan Harrison. Harrison, from the United States, shouldn't pose much of a threat. Dimitrov's first real competition could come as early as the third round and a potential matchup with Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov.

If Dimitrov can advance, he could have an exciting matchup with defending Wimbledon champion Andy Murray in the quarterfinals.

 

Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic is coming off of a disappointing second-round loss in the Gerry Weber Open, but the 23-year-old Canadian (born in Montenegro) hopes that his favorable draw can help him succeed at Wimbledon.

Seeded eighth, Raonic lucked out. He wouldn't have to face a truly great player until Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals. Even though Raonic is no guarantee to make it to the quarterfinals, he has reason to believe he can.

Earlier this month, Raonic reached his first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the French Open. Some attribute the recent rise in play to his new coach, Ivan Ljubicic. Whatever the reason, Raonic will be a name to look for at Wimbledon.   

The complete men's bracket can be seen here.

 

Women's

Simona Halep

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Halep at the French Open

She may not be considered a dark horse in the tennis community, but the young Romanian hasn't become a household name yet, and Wimbledon may be her opportunity to change that. After losing in the finals of the French Open to Sharapova, Simona Halep comes to Wimbledon seeded third.

The 22-year-old has made quite a name for herself in the past year. In 2013, Halep won six WTA singles titles, and she has seen her world ranking skyrocket. At the end of 2012, Halep was ranked No. 47. She now sits at No. 3 in the world behind Serena Williams and Li Na.

 

Eugenie Bouchard

Eugenie Bouchard is only 20, but the young Canadian is already making a name for herself. She is coming off an impressive performance at the French Open, where she ended up losing in the semifinals to Sharapova.

Wimbledon will be an even more difficult challenge for Bouchard. She is seeded 13th and has a potential matchup with No. 1 seed Williams in the fourth round.

Bouchard is the only woman to reach the semifinals in both Grand Slam tournaments this year. She has the ability to do it again, but the journey will be difficult. If she gets past the fourth round, she could potentially have Sharapova waiting for her in the quarterfinals.

The complete women's bracket can be seen here.

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