Friday 24 November 2017

Lesser lights take centre stage after thrilling week of Wimbledon shocks

Andy Murray
Andy Murray

Nigel Whittaker

NOVAK DJOKOVIC, Andy Murray and Serena Williams will head a cast of fresh-faced hopefuls today 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.

Gone are Federer, Nadal, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka – all former world No 1s, all Grand Slam champions and who between them own 35 Major trophies.

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.

Yet they all stand to pocket the biggest cheques of their lives after a trail of destruction decimated the field at the grass-court Major.

"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," said Djokovic.

Nowhere is that more evident than in the bottom half of the draw, where Murray (left) – bidding to end the host nation's 77-year search for a men's champion – now takes a route far easier than he would have expected to an anticipated final against top-ranked Djokovic.

Wimbledon

Live, BBC2, 11.30/TG4, 1.0/BBC1, 1.45

Irish Independent

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