Wimbledon 2013: Dustin Brown hits the big time

 

WIMBLEDON 2013

  • Venue: All England Club, London
  • Date: 24 June - 7 July

Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC Two, BBC HD Channel, Red Button, BBC Radio 5 live, plus 10 live streams available on the BBC Sport website, tablet, mobile and connected TV.

Decked in a hulking white rasta hat and oversized T-shirt featuring a print of his face and the nickname "Dreddy", Dustin Brown might not strike you as a man who has just made round three of Wimbledon.

Judging by his tearful on-court reaction and a subsequent tweet (#DidAllThatJustHappen...),  even the 28-year-old was taken aback.

"I cried like a little girl," he told the assembled media after a superb four-set victory over 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt.

"I'm emotional. I have a lot of friends here, my coach, my girlfriend. It's been a very long way. I'm happy I actually got through the match."

Brown does not look like your average tennis player, his game certainly differs and the back story is also unusual.

Making a mark

Dustin Brown

"Did you know #Brown is first player to wear his Twitter handle @DreddyTennis printed on his tennis shirt?"

Born in Germany to a Jamaican father and German mother, he moved to Jamaica two years later - learning to play tennis and representing their Davis Cup team.

On returning to Europe in 2004, Brown's parents bought him a camper van and that let him travel to Futures events without needing to pay for a hotel or restaurants.

With money hard to come by on the second-tier circuit, the 6ft 5ins right-hander told the Observer  in 2010 that the camper van "pretty much saved my career".

Asked if he thought about those days after beating Hewitt, Brown said: "Yeah, everything. I just sat down and it took its way. I couldn't really control it. I still have the van. It's parked in Germany at my parents' place."

The vehicle has been parked since Brown started playing more far-flung Challenger events, but it was not as if he arrived at Wimbledon with particularly high hopes.

A career-high ranking of 89 in 2011 has dropped to 189 and his only ATP main draw match this year saw him lose to David Ferrer in Doha.

He failed to qualify for the Australian Open and five other ATP events, while his best Challenger result was a run to the final in Sarajevo. In five of the 14 tournaments he has entered, Brown won no prize money.

Wimbledon preparations were supposed to take place in Nottingham, but he was beaten in round two of qualifying for the Aegon Trophy and round one of qualifying for the Aegon Challenge - both as top seed.

Yet Brown won five matches to reach the singles and doubles main draws at Wimbledon before dispatching Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Hewitt.

Dustin Brown's 2013

  • $25,781 won in prize money prior to Wimbledon
  • Had played just one match in the main draw of an ATP World Tour event - and lost it
  • Hasn't won any prize money at five of the events he has played in this season
  • Lost in the first round of qualifying for the Aegon Challenge to Great Britain's Dan Cox, whose world ranking is 513
  • Has played in six continents and 12 different countries.

"It's a pretty big pay cheque up to now," he said of his £63,000 earnings for reaching the third round, having previously pocketed just £17,000 in 2013.

"When I came here, I looked at the pay cheque [for the first round of qualifying] and it said £3,000. Great. I didn't look at the main draw, I just wanted to go round by round. The more matches I won, I got more confident."

Next up is Adrian Mannarino, a player ranked at 111 who made it through after John Isner retired because of injury.

"He's very flashy," Hewitt said of Brown, who hit 21 aces, 74 winners and won 48 points at the net. "He has a different style. I wouldn't say he's orthodox and on this surface he's dangerous."

Brown reached round two of the 2010 US Open - going out to Britain's Andy Murray - but had lost each of his other four Grand Slam matches.

Talking of Britain, he could have been representing the host nation at Wimbledon had circumstances worked out differently.

Brown's paternal grandmother is British and after falling out with Tennis Jamaica  in 2010, he declared an interest in switching allegiances. But the LTA did not show an interest, so he turned to Germany.

"The train has passed," he conceded. "I have two passports. I have a German passport and Jamaican passport. I'm playing for Germany now.

"There's no looking to change anything. I'm proud to be Jamaican and I'm proud to be German."

Brown heads off with music in his ears, his dreadlocked hair nestling in that rasta hat and luminous shoelaces lighting up a darkened room as befitting one of the stars of Wimbledon 2013.