Six to serve notice in the men's draw

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The Independent Online

The old-timer: Todd Martin

Due to his greying temples, Martin has looked like the old man of tennis since the mid-Nineties. Now he is. The big-serving American will turn 33 just two days after the Championships finish, making him the second oldest male competitor, behind Andre Agassi. There are no prizes for guessing what his ideal present would be. "Winning Wimbledon remains my ultimate dream," says the twice semi-finalist, "but my chances are running out." Yet the grass-fearing Gustavo Kuerten will not be looking forward to meeting him.

The home hope: Alex Bogdanovic

Before Greg Rusedski conquered all at Nottingham, the 19-year-old Bogdanovic was Britain's most in-form player. Not only did he reach the final of the Surbiton Trophy (where Rusedski fell in the quarter-finals), but he had a solid Queen's and an encouraging Nottingham. Bogdanovic is a leftie with an Ivanisevic-style serve and powerful ground-strokes. His game suits grass and his temperament is good, making him more than capable of defeating first Sargis Sargsian and then perhaps, with the help of the crowd, James Blake.

The baseliner: Juan Carlos Ferrero

The fact that the clay-court specialist has the opportunity to claim the world No 1 ranking explains his keenness to play on the green stuff in SW19. Another reason for optimism is that the courts are playing slower, thus giving baseliners a better chance. Seeded third, the Spaniard meets Jean-Rene Lisnard in the first round. Should he defeat the Frenchman, he would then only be one win short of his best-ever Wimbledon. He has a manageable section of the draw and could face Tim Henman in the quarters, where his run should end.

The traditionalist: Mark Philippoussis

Apart from Henman, there is no more natural serve-and-volleyer than the big Australian. Most, including the absent Pete Sampras, agree that only a freak knee injury prevented "Phlip" from winning in 1999. He has never quite recaptured that form since, but many believe this could be his year. Unseeded and unfancied, the right-hander is still serving scuds but could prove more of a stealth bomber this time. Xavier Malisse will be a tough hurdle, but it is the potential fourth-round tie against Agassi that most whets the appetite.

Nalbandian factor: Mario Ancic

Unlike the women here, it seems, the men can still spring genuine surprises. So who can emulate the Argentinian baseliner David Nalbandian, who reached the final last year? This year, Mario Ancic is not a bad bet. Although he is not seeded, the Croat, who is nicknamed "Little Goran", has a relatively straightforward first two rounds. It is in the third round that he will face his first big test, against one of the favourites, Andy Roddick. He shouldn't win, but then Nalbandian shouldn't have gone almost all the way last year.

Oddballs please: Martin Verkerk

The amiable Dutchman described his French Open final appearance as "like a joke". "If you can come within an inch of quitting twice because you don't think you're good enough," he said, "what are you doing in a Grand Slam final?" The self-doubting looks set to continue, as the No 21 seed has only ever played one match on grass, a three-set loss to Lars Burgsmuller at the Ordina Open. "I don't have a clue what I'm doing on the green stuff," he jokes, "but I'll enjoy it." He first faces a qualifier, then Nicolas Kiefer looms large.