Wimbledon: Who have received this year’s wildcards?

With the grass season well underway, thoughts are starting to turn to Wimbledon. With this year’s tournament more open than ever before, we can expect to see surprise runs and upsets on both the men’s and women’s draw. With any Grand Slam, we can always rely on at least on wild card to provide a shocking result – Denis Istomin in Australia and Chloe Pacquet in France had surprising results this year!
So who have received a wildcard to this year’s Wimbledon main draw and how likely is it to see a good run from them? Let’s take a look…

Tommy Haas

Current Ranking: 253
Career High: 2
Best Wimbledon performance: SF (2009)

Fresh on the back of a stunning victory over Roger Federer in Stuttgart, Wimbledon will see a welcome return to Tommy Haas. His last main draw appearance came in 2015, where he was ousted by Milos Raonic in round two, but the former semi-finalist is back on another return from injury.

At the age of 39, Haas will be the oldest player in the main draw but that doesn’t mean we should dismiss his chances. A Quarter Final appearance at Stuttgart was ended by Mischa Zverev and his performance against Federer was vintage tennis.There’s no doubt in my mind that Tommy Haas deserves a wildcard. His presence at the Slams will be great and will draw the crowds in for his first round match, whichever court he is on.

How far will he go?

For all of these, it’s difficult without seeing the draw, but you can definitely see Haas rolling back the years and making the second round. Who knows, we would well see him on Centre Court once again this year!

Katie Boulter

Current Ranking: 246
Career High: 243
Best Wimbledon performance: QR2

2017 has been the year that Katie Boulter has shown her potential. Having reached three ITF finals – winning one – Boulter particularly impressed us at a 50k event in Kurume, where she lost in the final to fellow-Brit Laura Robson. The twenty year-old has steadily risen in the rankings and her reward for a career high in the top 250 is a well-earned Wimbledon wild card.

Her form on grass has actually been quite disappointing, recording just two wins across three tournaments. Boulter was the only Brit to win a qualifying match at the Aegon Classic albeit against Jodie Burrage, but she also pushed Sachia Vickery close in her second round match, losing 1-6 6-7(4).

How far will she go?

It’s refreshing to see Wimbledon give Boulter the opportunity and hopefully she’ll make the most of it. She is playing the best tennis of her short career but it’s hard to see her getting a victory.

Cameron Norrie

Current Ranking: 236
Career High: 230
Best Wimbledon performance: First time entering

What a 12 months it’s been for young Brit Cameron Norrie. From being the top ranked male college tennis player in the US, Norrie has established himself on the ATP Challenger tour, making the final in Aptos last August (losing to Dan Evans) and semi finals in Maui this year (losing to Taro Daniel).

Norrie has travelled with Great Britain’s Davis Cup team this year and was rewarded with a wild card to the Aegon Championships at the Queen’s Club, where he lost in straight sets to Sam Querrey. At the Aegon Surbiton Trophy, Norrie impressively dismantled Malek Jaziri (a career high ranking scalp), before losing in two tight sets to Sergiy Stakhovsky in the next round.

How far will he go?

Wimbledon will be Cameron’s first appearance at a Grand Slam event, so playing five set tennis is unchartered territory. There’s a lot of hype about Norrie at the moment and many British tennis fans are getting more excited about his development. A first round win would be a huge shock, but other lefties have done it before (Liam Broady 2015).

Heather Watson

Current Ranking: 126
Career High: 38
Best Wimbledon performance: R3 (2012 & 2015)

It’s fair to say 2017 hasn’t been Watson’s best on the tour. A woeful string of results has seen her plummet down the rankings and outside the top 100. The former British number one has a lot to prove this grass season and will have gained confidence in Surbiton, where she reached the final before losing to Magdalena Rybarikova. She can also take pride in her performance in Edgbaston, losing in an epic three-setter against Elina Svitolina.

Since Watson lost to Serena Williams two years ago (it’s crazy it was that long ago!), she hasn’t been able to build on this performance and many commentators have often attributed this loss to the dip in form and confidence. However, a good run at Wimbledon wouldn’t be surprising.

How far will she go?

Watson has reached the third round twice (losing to Radwanska in 2012 and Williams in 2015), and will have no rankings points to defend. In fact, from now until the end of the year Watson has very little to defend so should be able to play her natural game without the pressure of defending points. She’ll also have the confidence going into the tournament as defending Mixed Doubles champion, so given a good draw, there’s no reason to suggest she can’t make her debut appearance in the second week of a Slam.

James Ward

Current Ranking: 1062
Career High: 89
Best Wimbledon performance: R3 (2015)

Many people will have rolled their eyes at yet another wild card for James Ward, but after a horrible year of injuries, it’s difficult not to give him the opportunity to have one last date with the green grass of Wimbledon.

Without a win on the grass this season, Ward has been awarded a wildcard on his history on the grass and with the Davis Cup team. While it’s easy to say he doesn’t deserve one, people forget that James Ward was one of Britain’s key players in the team’s journey to the Davis Cup triumph. So, ignore the ranking, he deserves this shot, okay?

How far will he go?

Ward will almost certainly lose his first round match, despite having reached the third round only two years ago! A combination of a lack of match play and stronger ATP field means we aren’t going to see any surprises here.

Zarina Diyas

Current Ranking: 133
Career High: 31
Best Wimbledon performance: R4 (2014 & 2015)

It’s fantastic to see Zarina Diyas awarded a wildcard this year. The Kazakh has been plagued by injury since Wimbledon last year and has had to build up her rankings through the ITF circuit this year to try and get back inside the top 100.

The champion in Manchester – where she defeated home favourite Naomi Broady along the way – Diyas also won an ITF 25k tournament in China in April and reached the final of another 100k event in Anning. She’s definitely the most in-form of the women’s wildcards and thoroughly deserves the recognition from the organisers.

How far will she go?

Diyas has an excellent record at Wimbledon, having reached the fourth round twice. In 2015, she defeated Flavia Pennetta and Andrea Petkovic, before losing to Maria Sharapova, while in 2014, she saw off Carla Suarez-Navarro and Vera Zvonareva before Simona Halep knocked her out. With her current form, there’s no reason to suggest Diyas can’t go far this year and we could see her knocking out a few seeded players this year!

Denis Shapovalov

Current Ranking: 193
Career High: 172
Best Wimbledon performance: First time entering (current Junior Champion)

The defending Boy’s Wimbledon Champion, Canadian Shapovalov has had a rollercoaster year so far. After making headlines for the wrong reasons at the Davis Cup earlier in the year, when he accidentally smashed a ball in the direction of umpire Arnaud Gabas, Denis has slowly become a bit of a fan favourite thanks to his reaction to the situation.

After receiving a wildcard to qualifying at the Aegon Championships at Queen’s club, Shapovalov made the second round after impressively seeing off home favourite Kyle Edmund. Earlier this year, he won a Challenger event in Canada and has beaten the likes of Jerzy Janowicz and Vasek Pospisil.

How far will he go?

Denis Shapovalov can definitely become a Wimbledon favourite if he plays his cards right. With a big, left-handed service, most (if not all) players will want to avoid him in the early rounds. There’s no reason why Shapovalov can’t reach the second, if not third, round at his debut Grand Slam main draw appearance!

Laura Robson

Current Ranking: 188
Career High: 27
Best Wimbledon performance: R4 (2013)

Laura Robson, where do we start? After an awful few years dogged with injury, it seems that Robson is making her way back in the sport after a few successes in the lower tiered events. Her success in Kurume was her best ever title win, where she defeated Katie Boulter in the final.

Now back in the top 200, Robson will be looking to use Wimbledon to kickstart her career and reach the potential the tour knows she has. Her preparations for the grass season haven’t gone to plan, though. Early defeats in Surbiton and Nottingham don’t bode well going into Wimbledon, but her doubles partnership with Fed Cup teammate Jocelyn Rae could spark the confidence needed in the young Brit.

How far can she go?

Laura Robson hasn’t won at Wimbledon since her amazing run in 2013. That year Kaia Kanepi stood in her way for a Quarter Final appearance (!) but this year she has wins under her belt and, more importantly, a title. I don’t expect Robson to win a match this year, but I do expect her to push her first round opponent and take this renewed belief into the US hard court swing.

Brydan Klein

Current Ranking: 228
Career High: 169
Best Wimbledon performance: R1 (2015 & 2016)

Am I being too harsh to say that this is the least inspiring use of a wildcard this year? Ok, so he’s had some tough draws at Wimbledon in his two appearances (Seppi and Mahut), but Brydan Klein hasn’t really shown any progress this year to warrant a wildcard.

Despite showing promise early in the year after qualifying to the main draw in Aukland, where he defeated Facundo Bagnis, Klein has only reached the Quarter Finals of one Challenger tournament this year. He’s been in poor form on grass, losing in the first round of qualifying in Surbiton, but yet has still been rewarded by Wimbledon.

How far will he go?

Klein will be the dream draw for anyone. First round defeat is inevitable.

Naomi Broady

Current Ranking: 111
Career High: 76
Best Wimbledon performance: R2 (2014)

It was three years ago now that Naomi Broady surprised Timea Babos in the first round of Wimbledon. After a successful stint in the top 100, Broady has dropped back down the rankings and will be eager to build on her good run on grass to make some progress ahead of the US hard courts.

Ahead of Wimbledon, Broady has reached the Quarter Finals in Surbiton, the Semi Finals in Manchester and impressively dismantled Alize Cornet in Edgbaston. The British number two deserves her wildcard and will hopefully make the second round once again.

How far can she go?

I am going to make a bold prediction and say that Broady can make the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time in her career. If she gets her serve swinging, she’s a nightmare opponent, especially on grass!

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