Up-and-coming Milos Raonic has big hopes for this year's Wimbledon. He recently became the first Canadian to reach the top 10, and, a few weeks also became the first Canadian to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final in the Open Era, after beating home player Gilles Simon, in a bruising five sets, and Spaniard Marcel Granollers.
With Del Potro injured, World No.9 Raonic has just been seeded in the top eight - a major boon which means he would meet no higher-ranked opposition until Nadal in the quarter-finals. However, neither Nadal or the man Raonic lost to in the French quarter-final, a certain Mr Djokovic, cause too much fear for the Montenegro-born player.
"I'm sort of right there among the top eight right now," he said. "I think I compete well with those guys, pretty much every time. Against a few of them, I've got a better head-to-head record. But especially against those top two guys [Nadal and Djokovic] I've got to keep putting myself in the position of playing them constantly just so I know how to deal with the situations better. I felt like the last two time I've played them I have been able to match their level, but they sort of stepped over me in important moments. I wasn't as comfortable or calm in those moments as they were. I'm prepared and ready [for Wimbledon]. In the first rounds I'm not going to play my best tennis. I've just got to find my way through those, but I know I can just keep playing better and better and the seeding gives me a chance to sink my teeth into the tournament."
Raonic was speaking at The Boodles event in Buckinghamshire - a somewhat laid-back Wimbledon warm-up, sandwiched between Queen's and the real thing starting Monday - where he beat Dutchman Robin Haase 4-6, 6-4, 10-5 (championship tie-break) but narrowly lost to Ernest Gulbis 7-6, 7-6. Gulbis will be looking to build on his recent semi-final success at the French Open and has also been playing some strong tennis at The Boodles, despite admitting to feeling "clumsy" on grass.
Elsewhere, Marin Cilic, who has been as high as World No.9 but currently sits at 29, stormed past World No. 15 Fabio Fognini, Murray's conqueror in Italy's recent Davis Cup win over Great Britain. The Croatian is now being coached by Goran Ivanisevic, the only Wimbledon wild card winner, after defeating Henman in that rain-delayed, three-day semi-final and another five-setter against Patrick Rafter a day later on "People's Monday".
Cilic said: "Goran is my idol and my childhood hero, so to be together with him has always been my dream. Now on the tour I'm learning a lot from him and he is helping me to serve better, as I have hit the most aces on the ATP Tour this year, so it seems things are working well. That is a special touch from Goran as we know he was one of the best servers on the Tour. I'm really excited to be playing at Wimbledon and to have him among my team is going to be a huge help. We watched him in all his finals [three times losing, one winning] and we were ecstatic when he won it."
Cilic starts his Wimbledon campaign against Paul-Henri Matheiu, a Frenchman he is very well acquainted with after playing six times in the space of 10 months. He said: "He can always play dangerous so I have to ready and careful." Being careful would always be sage advice to anyone watching Cilic and Ivanisevic doing service practice on the lawns of SW19.
Novak Djokovic was also being cautious as he decided to pull out of his match against Haase, as a precautionary measure ahead of Wimbledon, due to a niggling wrist injury he has had since Monte Carlo in April. The Serbian was in Stoke Park as part of announcement by his sponsors Uniqlo of a three-year sponsorship deal of the ITF Wheelchair Tennis Tour. He kicks off his Wimbledon campaign against Kazakhstan's Andrey Golubev on Monday.