Wimbledon qualifying for the men starts tonight.
While clearly the big names will hit the match court next week, there are a few players battling through the qualifying rounds that might make a splash in the main draw.
Here, we take a look at four players who could make a run at the most prestigious tournament of all.
The 19-year-old Australian burst on to the world stage during the Australian Open, where he reached the third round, knocking out top-ten player Dominic Thiem along the way, before succumbing to Lucas Pouille in a classic five-set encounter.
While he hasn’t quite set the world on fire since then, his ranking has been steadily going up, and is now at a career-high 99.
Although a French Open junior champion two years ago, Popyrin has a game which seems to stack up on grass, with a booming serve and a solid forehand.
If he can show some of the form from earlier in the year, don’t be surprised to see him go through qualifying, and test a few main draw players.
Alexei Popyrin of Australia (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)
The enigmatic German with the best hair on tour is somewhat of a veteran on tour now at age 34.
However, the grass season is his favourite time of year, and he is well known to the strawberries and cream crowd at SW19.
Brown has played Main Draw at Wimbledon seven times, (more than any other Slam), reaching the second round twice, and the third round twice.
His biggest win here was back in 2015, where, in a massive boilover, he knocked over Rafael Nadal in the second round, in four sets.
Nadal had no answer for Brown’s fast, and often unorthodox game. Brown has a huge serve, loves to get into the net, and can slap groundstrokes from anywhere on the court, at a stunning pace.
That came on the back of beating Nadal the previous year at the Wimbledon warm-up tournament in Halle, Germany!
Anyone with a 2-0 record against Nadal needs to be taken seriously on the grass!
If we take the reasoning that anyone who has beaten Nadal at Wimbledon has to be a danger, then Lukas Rosol must be on this list.
The 33-year-old Czech had a career-high ranking of 26 back in 2014, and has reached the quarter-finals of the French Open, so he is clearly no stranger to playing big matches.
But it was back in 2012 when Rosol did what Brown would do a few years later. That is, beat Nadal in five sets, on Centre Court at Wimbledon in the second round.
The obvious comparison to Brown, is Rosol’s big serve, which clearly suits a grass court game. While the match was somewhat controversial for Nadal’s reaction to the way Rosol behaved on court, there is no doubting he deserved to win the match that day.
Currently ranked 130, he hasn’t quite matched that stellar performance of recent years, but if he gets on a roll through qualifying, he has the potential to do some damage through the main draw.
Another veteran on tour, 37-year-old Mahut is probably best known at Wimbledon for his epic three-day marathon match with John Isner.
However, that would be selling him short. Having reached a career-high singles ranking of 37, he is somewhat of a grass court specialist, having won four singles titles on the ATP tour, with each one of them coming on the grass.
He has also reached two other finals, also both on grass. In those four winning finals, he disposed of Stan Wawrinka, Lleyton Hewitt, David Goffin and Gilles Muller – a pretty decent group of grass court players in their own right.
In 2016 Mahut won the Wimbledon doubles title with countryman Pierre-Hugues Herbert, and has amassed a swag of doubles titles on tour.
In fact, three years ago, he was the world’s number 1 doubles player, and is still sitting at number 13.
Just last month, Mahut reached the third round of the French Open, so don’t discount the Frenchman just yet. The old dog might have a few tricks up his sleeve yet.
So there you have it.
I think all four men have the chance to not only get through qualifying, but also get through a round or two of the main draw. Let’s see where they sit this time next week.
Who did I miss?