Wimbledon dark horses on verge of quarters

Kristen Flipkens of Belgium trains with her illustrious compatriot Kim Clijsters. Picture: PA

Kristen Flipkens of Belgium trains with her illustrious compatriot Kim Clijsters. Picture: PA

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OF the 32 men and women set to play in Wimbledon’s fourth round today day, ten will be trying to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final for the first time. So who are these players? How old are they, where are they from - and how did they get here?

Kenny de Schepper

Age 26, France, ranked 80th

Before last week, he was 1-4 in Grand Slam matches. Before beating 22nd-seeded Juan Monaco in the third round, he was 2-10 against opponents ranked in the top 100. His second-round opponent, 10th-seeded Marin Cilic, withdrew with a knee injury. Today, de Schepper plays 54th-ranked Fernando Verdasco.

Ivan Dodig

Age 28, Croatia, ranked 49th

Before this tournament, he was 7-13 in Grand Slam matches, only once making it to the third round. The men he faced in the first round (16th-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber) and third round (Igor Sijsling) at Wimbledon both quit because of illness while trailing. Dodig is tied for the tournament lead with 49 aces. Today Dodig plays No 4 David Ferrer, the French Open runner-up.

Jerzy Janowicz

Age: 22, Poland, seeded 24th

This is only his fifth Grand Slam. His second-round opponent, Radek Stepanek, stopped in the second set because of a left leg injury. He hit the fastest serve of the tournament, 140 mph. Today, Janowicz plays 37th-ranked Jurgen Melzer.

Lukasz Kubot

Age 31, Poland, ranked 130th

His career record is 90-106, a .459 winning percentage. He didn’t need to play a point in the second round because of the withdrawal of Steve Darcis, who stunned Rafael Nadal on Day 1, but then pulled out on Day 3, citing a right shoulder injury. Today, Kubot plays 111th-ranked Adrian Mannarino.

Adrian Mannarino

Age 25, France, ranked 111th

His Grand Slam record was 3-13 before last week, including a six-match losing streak. His second-round opponent, 18th-seeded John Isner of the U.S., stopped because of a knee injury in the third game, making it the second-shortest Wimbledon match in the 45-year Open era. Today, Mannarino plays 130th-ranked Lukasz Kubot.

Andreas Seppi

Age 29, Italy, seeded 23rd

He is 28-33 in Grand Slam matches. If he reaches the round of eight in his 34th major, it would equal the third-most Slam appearances for a first-time quarterfinalist in the Open era. His second-round opponent, Michael Llodra, retired after the first set, citing a hamstring injury, then went out and won a doubles match later the same day. Seppi’s victories in the first and second rounds both came via five-setters, giving Seppi seven consecutive wins in matches that went the distance. Today, Seppi plays No 8 Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion.

Kirsten Flipkens

Age 27, Belgium, seeded 20th

She was 15-18 in Grand Slams before Wimbledon. Never made it past the third round at a major tournament until losing in the fourth round at the Australian Open in January. She trains with retired four-time major champion Kim Clijsters. Won junior titles at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2003. Today, Flipkens plays 166th-ranked Flavia Pennetta, a former top-10 player and three-time major quarterfinalist.

Karin Knapp

Age 26, Italy, ranked 104th

She entered last week with an 0-2 main-draw record at Wimbledon, plus a loss in qualifying in 2009. Never before past the third round at a major tournament; hadn’t even made it that far since the 2008 French Open. She leads women with 33 aces at Wimbledon. In the third round, she beat Michelle Larcher de Brito, the 131st-ranked qualifier who eliminated Maria Sharapova in the second round. Today, Knapp plays 15th-seeded Marion Bartoli, the 2007 Wimbledon runner-up.

Monica Puig

Age: 19, Puerto Rico, ranked 65th

Made her Grand Slam debut at this year’s French Open, reaching third round, 5-1 so far at major tournaments. Wimbledon is her first grass-court tournament as a professional. She defeated 2012 French Open runner-up Sara Errani in the first round. She reached two junior Grand Slam finals in 2011. Today, Puig plays 17th-seeded Sloane Stephens, a 20-year-old American who was an Australian Open semifinalist in January.

Laura Robson

Age 19, Britain, ranked 38th

Already in her 11th Grand Slam tournament, she was 7-10 before last week. She beat tenth-seeded Maria Kirilenko in the first round, then got to play women ranked 117th and 71st next. She is the first British woman in 15 years to reach Wimbledon’s fourth round. Already assured of moving into top 30 in WTA rankings after Wimbledon, the home hope today plays 46th-ranked Kaia Kanepi, a four-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist, including Wimbledon in 2010.

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