“I think it’s the pursuit of excellence each and every day. I think that’s what those four guys have done better than everybody, ever in tennis,” Milos Raonic said. “Despite how it could have been very discouraging for Novak being behind Roger and Rafa for so many years, then Andy the same thing, being behind a bunch. They just pursued excellence each and every day.”
But all dynasties come to an end, right? ATPWorldTour.com looks at four players who might have what it takes to hoist the Gentleman’s Singles Trophy this fortnight.
Of anyone outside the Big Four and still remaining in the draw, Raonic has come the closest to winning the Wimbledon title. The 2016 finalist was three sets away from winning the title last year before he lost to Murray, who claimed his second Wimbledon crown with the win.
But with Raonic’s injuries seemimgly behind him and a trip to the final under his belt, might this be the Canadian’s year? The right-hander faces #NextGenATP German Alexander Zverev in the fourth round.
“I’m not here waiting for anybody to play badly or not be who they once were. I’m just trying to be the best I can. Hopefully that can lead to bigger things each and every day,” Raonic said. “[The Big Four], you’ve seen many open doors and they’ve shut them. You have to take it in your hands if you want to make a difference against these guys that have been around for so long.”
Cilic has flourished on the grass so far this season, reaching the Ricoh Open semi-finals (l. to Karlovic) and the Aegon Championships final (l. to Lopez). Now the Croatian nears familiar territory again at the All England Club. The 6’6” right-hander has reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals the past three years but has never made it to the semi-finals.
“I’m quite happy with position I’m in, also with my own form. I’m extremely satisfied,” Cilic said.
Last year, the Croatian had three match points against Federer in the Wimbledon quarter-finals before falling to the seven-time champion. Cilic meets 18th seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the fourth round.
“Players like Roger, Rafa, they have had great success this year. Novak and Andy, you cannot ever rule them out of Grand Slams. They are always having that little bit of extra pressure or spotlight on them,” Cilic said. “But still, I know that even under pressure I have been performing really well and playing quite good in those critical moments and situations. So definitely my big focus is to continue to play well. I have to show my abilities on the court and to bring them every single match.”
The Bulgarian has experience with deep runs at SW19 as well, having reached the semi-finals in 2014. The right-hander faces a tough task to start his second week. He will try to beat Roger Federer for the first time in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. Federer leads their series 5-0.
Asked to compare this fortnight to 2014, Dimitrov said: “I feel better. I feel my game is better. My physique is better. I’m in a better place in my life, in my head. Those are a lot of positive things… I’m just excited… I’m not hiding it. Again, I appreciate being in that second week. My goal, my ultimate goal, is always to win Wimbledon.”
The #NextGenATP German is into the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time, but he’s been clutch in big moments all season long. Zverev has won three ATP World Tour titles this year, including his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown, when he beat Novak Djokovic at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. Zverev, the leader of the Emirates ATP Race To Milan, will face Raonic on Monday.
“Of course it’s nice to reach the fourth round, but this is not the goal that somebody sets, ‘Oh, I want to be in the fourth round and then that’s it.’ Obviously I want to keep playing good tennis and keep getting up there,” Zverev said. “It’s good. I think it’s another milestone in my young career.”