Higdon's Net Game
June 21, 1996
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The envelope, please...
Winner: Pete Sampras
Last year at this time, Sampras was Slamless and Wimbledon, as he said later, 'saved' his year.
Despite the toughest draw of the four top seeds--heck, probably the toughest-looking draw of his
career--the Pistol should be packing heat all fortnight.
Runner-up: Boris Becker
Becker said in 1995 that Centre Court now belongs to Sampras. If so, he's the one most likely to make
sure the American isn't just renting.
Semifinalists: Stefan Edberg, Todd Martin
A sentimental favorite? Of course. But Edberg told me earlier this week that he hasn't felt this good
about his game in nearly two years. Accompanying him will be Martin, who will be Andre Agassi's
first--and last--true test during the tournament.
Michael Stich, Goran Ivanisevic, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Thomas Enqvist
Did you realize that 1991 Wimbledon champ Stich hasn't gotten past the quarterfinals since? He won't
lose in the first round like he has the past two years, but he won't grace the semis either. Ivanisevic is
Sampras' most feared opponent, but he could wilt with practically the whole world cheering against him
if he faces the retiring Edberg. Kafelnikov has a good draw and the toughness to survive into the second
week. Enqvist has yet to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal or ever win a match at Wimbledon. It's time
for him to start living up to his promise--and following in the formidable footsteps of fellow Swede
Early Round Follies
Looking at Sampras' draw, the only round that looks relatively safe is the third one. All others, starting
with Richey Reneberg on Monday, will be challenges, though I sense he's going to trash grass-court
neophyte Philippoussis in round two. First-round match I would have preferred to see in Paris rather
than London: Alberto Costa vs. Michael Chang. Agassi plays two qualifiers and then a no-name in the first
three rounds, then gets bounced back into Brooke's arms by Martin. Courier may play two of his best
friends in the opening rounds: Jonathan Stark and Mark Knowles. Another first round match made in clay
heaven, not here: Bohdan Ulihrach vs. Carlos Costa. Becker has the exact opposite of Sampras: Perhaps
the easiest Wimbledon draw of his career.
Winner: Steffi Graf
Graf seems as invincible today as she did during her fabled 'Golden Slam' run in 1988. Someone
eventually will knock her out of a Slam winner's circle, but it won't happen on the surface that favors
her game most.
Runner-up: Monica Seles
While vulnerable on grass and nursing a chronic injury, Seles probably won't meet a single player who
will be able to exploit her lack of mobility until she reaches the final.
Conchita Martinez, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario
The Spanish duo should hold seed, but face opponents who have dominated them (Graf for Martinez, Seles
for Sanchez Vicario) throughout their careers.
Jana Novotna, Lindsay Davenport, Irina Spirlea, Mary Joe Fernandez
If not for the (bad) luck of the draw, Novotna could well have been a finalist again this year. Instead, she
gets Graf in the quarters. Davenport could have a good run, but she lacks the confidence and speed to
overcome Martinez. Spirlea benefits from a bracket weakened by Chanda Rubin's weakened wrist.
Fernandez isn't much of a grass-court aficionado, but neither is fifth seed Anke Huber, her likely
opponent in the round of 16.
Early Round Follies:
Mary Pierce looked woefully ill-prepared for grass at a warm-up event in Eastbourne, but she's got such
an easy draw she might pick up momentum and confidence heading into a round of 16 matchup with
Davenport. Even if she wasn't nursing an injury, Rubin would have her hands full with first round
opponent Judith Weisner. One-time semifinalist Gigi Fernandez has a grand opportunity to reach the
quarterfinals if she can keep her emotions in check. I wouldn't be surprised if Brenda Schultz-McCarthy
got all the way to the semis, even the final. God save me (and more specifically, my column space) if
Maria-Antonia Sanchez Lorenzo turns into a top pro--or meets Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in the third
Higdon's Net Game / Between The Lines Archives:
1995 - May 1998 | August 1998 - 2002 | 2003 - 2007
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This column is copyrighted by David Higdon, all rights reserved.
David Higdon was named a senior writer of Tennis Magazine (U.S.) beginning with the December 1994 issue, which featured David's cover story on Andre Agassi. David worked for the magazine since August 1988, when he was hired by the magazine as a senior editor. In September 1991, he left his full-time editing position with the magazine to become a contributing editor, moving from Connecticut to Portland, Oregon. He currently works as a freelance writer, writing regularly not only for Tennis but also for publications such as Sports Illustrated for Kids, The New York Times, Self, Boys' Life and USAir Magazine. He also serves as editor of Rip City Magazine, the official publication of the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers.