Year of the underdog

2013 at Wimbledon throws up an unprecedented number of underdog achievers and heartbroken superstars

Wimbledon will always remember Boris Becker, Pete Sampras, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Steffi Graf, Serena Williams for their all-conquering run on grass. At the same address, Peter Doohan, George Bastl, Sergiy Stakhovsky, Steve Darcis, Lori McNeil, Sabine Lisicki will stay in memory for conquering Becker, Sampras, Federer, Nadal, Graf and Williams. Historically, at SW19, the ATP/ WTA form-book is as unreliable as the English weather and first-week upsets as much a part of the tradition as the all-white dress code, green and purple colour code, umbrellas, strawberries and cream. This is the only Grand Slam to have an arena infamous for being the graveyard of seeded players and therefore called, well, Graveyard Court. But this Wimbledon, an alarming number of reputations have been buried under many more courts.

Nadal fell at the first hurdle, Federer and Maria Sharapova at the second, all three falling to players not in the top-100 bracket. The bizarre first week had some spoilsport firsts: the fewest top-10 men and women who reached the third round and the highest withdrawals due to injuries. It didn't end there. The second week started with Superwoman Serena Williams, till last month seen as the best woman player ever, losing in the fourth round.

A new curator and last year's London Olympics, played at the same venue and which allegedly ate into the time to garden the grass, have shared the blame for injuries and insults to the top seeds. But a simpler and more believable explanation could be a simultaneous low for the game's leading lights. The fans, meanwhile, have let out a loud groan at the sight of unfamiliar faces at the business end of the tournament. But there's hope. The men's draw still has a few regulars who can set a final on fire. Seeds or not, the grass is always green at Wimbledon.

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