Guess who? Djokovic, Murray and Serena lead unfamiliar cast
Updated: 2013-07-01 07:36
LONDON - Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Serena Williams will head a cast of fresh-faced hopefuls on Monday as Wimbledon heads into the second week which will be a Federer-free zone for the first time in 11 years.
A second week which had promised back-to-back blockbuster matches after Murray, seven-times champion Roger Federer and 2008 and 2010 winner Rafa Nadal had been thrown together in the same half of the draw, will instead have a distinctly unfamiliar look to it following an unforgettable week of shocks.
Instead, the second week line-up includes an array of characters who had turned up at the All-England Club expecting to play a supporting role but have been thrust into the limelight of a last-16 appearance.
French duo Kenny de Schepper and Adrian Mannarino, Poland's Jerzy Janowicz, Italy's Karin Knapp and Puerto Rican Monica Puig are ranked outside the world's top 20, have never won a main-tour title and had never previously reached the fourth round of a major.
Novak Djokovic of Serbia waves as he arrives at a practice court at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, in London, June 30, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]
"It's good for change in a way because top players are always expected to reach the final stages of major events. When it doesn't happen, it's a big surprise," Djokovic told reporters.
"It's a bit (of a) strange feeling not to have Federer or Nadal at the second week of a major. In the last 10 years, it was always one of them. But there's some (other) players who have been playing great tennis. I think it's interesting also to see new faces for the crowd, for (the) tennis world in general."
Nowhere is that more evident than in the bottom half of the draw where the highest seed world number two Murray can face before a hotly anticipated final against top-ranked Djokovic is his next opponent - Russian oddball and 20th seed Mikhail Youzhny.
The Russian is not averse to seeking outside help when things are not going his way as 12 months ago while he was being thrashed by Federer he went over to Center Court's Royal Box and asked American great Andre Agassi how to beat the Swiss.
If he was to repeat the cheeky request to any of the 15,000 fans who will be packed into Center Court on Monday, it will fall on deaf years as he will be playing the man Britain expects to end the host nation's 77-year search for a men's champion.