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Higdon's Net Game
June 21, 1996 Article

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Higdon's Net Game By David Higdon
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"Wimbledon Preview"

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David Higdon

The envelope, please...

Men's Singles

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.

Quarterfinalists: 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 Edberg.

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.

Women's Singles

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.

Semifinalists: 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.

Quarterfinalists: 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 round.

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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.


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