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McCarvel: Who'll Get The First Strike?

This fortnight, wtatennis.com contributors Mark Hodgkinson, Nick McCarvel and Courtney Nguyen will bring us some daily flavor from Wimbledon. Check in every day...

Published June 26, 2014 12:12

LONDON, England - Four weeks later, the storyline at Wimbledon is much the as it was at Roland Garros: Generation Next is flexing its muscle at a major tournament. Only this time, the roster has almost completely changed.

At this point, it's safe to say that a new wave of tennis has arrived on the WTA. Only now the question begs: Who will be the first to step up? Who will be the first to win a Grand Slam?

Wednesday at the All England Club Bojana Jovanovski led a slew of young players into the third round, joined by 16-year-old Ana Konjuh, 20-year-old Lauren Davis and Caroline Garcia, also 20.

And Thursday a few more try to join them, namely Genie Bouchard, Heather Watson, Belinda Bencic, Victoria Duval, Zarina Diyas and Madison Keys.

"There's definitely a group of youngsters in this generation that are finding their games," the 19-year-old Keys told ESPN in an interview. "We're figuring it out a little more."

Yet the figuring-it-out process has now moved into the phase of who will show up at the big matches. Bouchard has talked openly about wanting to win now, not waiting for down the road.

It's the Canadian who has made two major semifinals this calendar year, the only woman on tour to do so. Keys' maiden title in Eastbourne last week was a long-awaited milestone for the American, and with Sloane Stephens out of the running at SW19, the who's-next attention has turned to her.

"Winning Eastbourne was so much more than one round at a major," Keys told reporters Tuesday. "So as of right now, it's definitely the biggest milestone of mine. If something else surpasses that, I will let you know."

It's safe to say we will all notice too, Madison. Lately, mid-career breakthroughs have been common in the women's tour (think Sara Errani, Angelique Kerber), but a young player sticking around the top hasn't been as easy.

The air around Wimbledon as the tournament has kicked off is that the established corps is the one to watch, but there is more rumbling about which young player can rise up, about who isn't scared to go toe-to-toe with the best.

Bouchard is set for a collision course with Serena Williams in the fourth round. Serena, perhaps the best of barometers? There's no better marker it would seem.

And for the rest? If they make their way deep into week two, the conversation only continues. But who gets the first strike - the first chance to be a major champion - will be most telling.

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