As the seeds tumble, here’s who can take advantage at Wimbledon

Our tennis expert Stephen Higgins slices into the drama at Wimbledon and tries to make sense of it all as the seeds continue to fall…


A few years back, in a heatwave similar to this, I remember watching a lad at an amateur tournament stop his service motion so that he could vomit first.

The hard-as-nails bloke then recovered his composure and delivered an excellent slice serve.

Thankfully, we haven’t seen that kind of carry on at the All England Club this week, but brains have most definitely been frazzled in the heat. A record 21 seeded players crashed out of Wimbledon’s first round including four of the top eight women.

Some of these departures have been a surprise – particularly Marin Cilic and Petra Kvitova – with others less so. Regardless of the reason, certain sections of the men’s and women’s draws have really opened up.

Let’s have a look at some of the high profile exits and ponder how they could shape the tournament.

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Men’s Draw

Marin Cilic (3rd seed)

Nobody is quite sure what happened to the Croatian in his five-set loss to Guido Pella.

The 2018 Queen’s champion, who made the Wimbledon final 12 months ago, had two sets in the bag and only trailed by a break when play was called for rain on Wednesday evening.

Come the new day and there was a new, inspired opponent across the net. Pella’s lefty shots and tireless running eventually proved too much for a wilting Cilic in the fifth set.

The loss of world no.3 and Grigor Dimitrov from the second quarter clears the way for heavy hitters Milos Raonic and John Isner to advance. Also in this quarter, 17th seed Lucas Pouille fell to Dennis Novak giving Raonic an easier route to the fourth round.

Roger Federer will be most pleased with the carnage as Kevin Anderson (no.8) is the next highest seed remaining in the top half. Wimbledon final number 12 looks on the cards for the eight-time champion.

Dominic Thiem (7th seed)

It seems that the slog of all those clay events caught up with the French Open finalist.

Affected by a back problem, the 24-year-old retired in the third set of his opener with Marcos Baghdatis. Amazingly, Thiem has already played 47 matches in 2018, 14 more than world no.1 Rafa Nadal so he could do with a rest.

The Austrian’s exit will delight those left in the third quarter, particularly Novak Djokovic.

If the Serb navigates the first three rounds, he will be rewarded with an unseeded player in the fourth. This is a crazy section overall with Djokovic, Sascha Zverev, Kei Nishikori, Kyle Edmund and Nick Kyrgios duking it out.

Look Out For

Stefanos Tsitsipas (66/1)

This flamboyant Greek is going to be a big deal in the coming years, although this might be a major too soon for the 19-year-old. That said, Tsitsipas could take advantage of Dimitrov’s absence and nab a few wins before John Isner ends the fun in round four.

Women’s Draw

Caroline Wozniacki (2nd seed)

The Australian Open champion doesn’t enjoy her annual trip to the All England Club.

Wimbledon is the only major that the 27-year-old has never made the last eight of. Giant killer Ekaterina Makarova and an army of flying ants made sure that the Dane once again booked an early flight from Heathrow.

Wozniacki is the most high profile casualty in a bottom quarter that has been decimated. Six of the eight seeds have been flung out in the opening rounds.

The two that remain are 2015 quarter finalist Madison Keys and a woman who’s won this seven times before. Serena Williams looked good in her second-round win and may feel that Keys is the only obstacle between her and a spot in the last four.

Petra Kvitova (8th seed)

The Czech has been one of the outstanding players of 2018 with five titles captured already this season. The 28-year-old is also a two-time champion at the All England club, so her confidence should have been ironclad this fortnight.

But it was not to be for Kvitova as nerves, 31 unforced errors and an intelligent performance from Sasnovich proved too much for her on day two.

The removal of Kvitova and Maria Sharapova from the top quarter will bring much relief to world no.1 Simona Halep. The only players left that could trouble the Romanian are Jo Konta and Jelena Ostapenko.

The Brit has picked up some confidence lately after a barren run, while the Latvian is an unpredictable force with an affection for grass.

Keep An Eye On

Ashleigh Barty (20/1)

The Australian absolutely loves the green stuff and captured the trophy at Nottingham a couple of weeks back. The 22-year-old has the game to make it to the fourth round and possibly give Garbine Muguruza an almighty scare.

Donna Vekic (40/1)

The Croatian took out Sloane Stephens in the opening round and followed that up with a straight sets win over Rebecca Peterson in round two. The world no.55 is a former Nottingham champion with a big serve and heavy groundstrokes. She has a decent shout to make the last eight with Julia Goerges and Barbora Strycova the top seeds in her segment.

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* All odds correct at time of posting.

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