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Archive for Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Wimbledon draw rough on Agassi

Second-seeded men’s player must meet Wessels in opener

June 20, 2001

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— Wimbledon's new seeding system, designed to reduce the chance of early round surprises, didn't help Andre Agassi in Tuesday's draw.

Pete Sampras, bidding for his eighth Wimbledon title, and defending women's champion Venus Williams will be heavily favored in their opening matches. So will Jennifer Capriati, who has swept the year's first two Grand Slam tournaments.

But the second-seeded Agassi must start against Peter Wessels, a dangerous Dutchman who is ranked only 91st but has shown an affinity for grass-court tennis in the last week. Wessels beat U.S. Open champion Marat Safin at the Queen's Club tournament last Wednesday and upset last year's Wimbledon runner-up, Patrick Rafter, at the Heineken Trophy event Tuesday.

Wimbledon doubled the number of seeded players this year to 32 men and 32 women, a change adopted by all four Grand Slam tournaments to protect top players from tough early matchups. None of Wimbledon's 10 top-seeded players will face an opponent ranked higher than 53rd in the first round.

As the defending men's champion, Sampras will play the opening match on Centre Court for the eighth time Monday when he faces Francisco Clavet, a Spaniard more comfortable on clay.

The toughest potential obstacles in Sampras' part of the draw are sixth-seeded Tim Henman of Britain and No. 23 Todd Martin of the United States, both possible quarterfinal opponents.

In the women's draw, top-seeded Martina Hingis will open against Spaniard Virginia Ruano Pascual. Williams, seeded second, will play Shinobu Asagoe of Japan.

Capriati, the Australian and French Open champion who is seeded fourth, begins against Maria Alejan Vento of Venezuela.

On the men's side, Albert Costa of Spain became the third top clay-court player to say he'll skip the tournament. Costa pulled out Tuesday, saying he needs dental surgery. Three-time French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten and French Open runner-up Alex Corretja earlier said they'll miss the event because of injuries.

Eighth-seeded Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain, who threatened to sit out Wimbledon, decided to play the event for the first time. He'll face a qualifier in the first round.

Three dangerous floaters in the men's field American 18-year-old Andy Roddick, Briton Greg Rusedski and Croatian Goran Ivanisevic are in the same quarter of the draw with the fourth-seeded Safin.

Ivanisevic, a three-time Wimbledon runner-up who made the tournament as a wild card, could face Roddick in the third round.

Other possible quarterfinal matchups: Agassi against No. 5 Lleyton Hewittt of Australia, who won the Queen's Club tournament Sunday; and No. 3 Patrick Rafter, runner-up a year ago, against No. 7 Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia.

Also in Rafter's quarter of the draw are big servers Max Mirnyi of Belarus and Wayne Arthurs of Australia, as well as No. 16 Valdimir Voltchkov, who reached the semifinals last year.

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