Originally created 06/18/97

Sampras' Wimbledon draw to quarters favorable



WIMBLEDON, England -- There are few big servers in Pete Sampras' way as he seeks his fourth Wimbledon title in five years. But there's another Swede in his path.

Tuesday's draw presented the top seed with a favorable bracket but a potentially tricky first-round match against Mikael Tillstrom at the All England Club, with the tournament to start Monday.

On the women's side, top-seeded Martina Hingis, 16, could become the youngest Wimbledon singles champion of the century. She faces a field that will be without injured Steffi Graf, but two intriguing tests could await en route to the semifinals - Jennifer Capriati and Lindsay Davenport.

On paper, the 54th-ranked Tillstrom shouldn't pose a great threat. But Sampras has been off his game recently, with his two most recent losses coming against Swedes - Magnus Norman in the third round of the French Open and Jonas Bjorkman in the quarterfinals at Queen's Club last week.

If Sampras gets by Tillstrom, he should have a relatively smooth run. But in the quarterfinals he could face fellow three-time champion Boris Becker, seeded No. 8.

Sampras avoided most of the big servers like No. 2 seed Goran Ivanisevic, No. 7 Mark Philippoussis and defending champion Richard Krajicek. They're all in the bottom half of the draw and couldn't play the American until the final.

Philippoussis was paired in the first round with Britain's Greg Rusedski, and that match should heat the radar gun. Philippoussis has the game's fastest serve at 142 mph, and Rusedski isn't far behind.

"It's going to be tough," Rusedski said. "But I'm sure Mark will be thinking it's just as hard a draw for him. I can't seem to get away from them (Australians)."

Ivanisevic, No. 3 Yevgeny Kafelnikov and No. 4 Krajicek drew easy opening opponents in the first round. Ivanisevic faces Romania's Dinu Pescariu, Kafelnikov plays Spain's Juan Antonio Marin and Krajicek meets Germany's Marcello Craca.

Also of note in the first round:

  • 1991 champion Michael Stich meets 1993 finalist Jim Courier. Both players are unseeded this year.
  • No. 5 seed Michael Chang plays Australia's Todd Woodbridge, who has won the doubles title at Wimbledon with Mark Woodforde the last four years.
  • 1992 champion Andre Agassi, now No. 29 in the rankings, opens against Spain's Carlos Moya, the No. 10 seed and Australian Open runner-up.
  • French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten plays hard-hitting Justin Gimelstob, with Stich or Courier waiting in the second round.
  • If the seeds pan out, the quarterfinals will look like this: Sampras vs. Becker, Kafelnikov vs. Chang, Krajicek vs. No. 6 Thomas Muster and Ivanisevic vs. Philippoussis.

    Hingis could face a fourth-round match with Capriati, who in 1991 became the youngest Wimbledon women's semifinalist at age 15 but has since faded. Hingis' likely quarterfinal opponent is Davenport. The No. 5 seed has a serve-and-volley game that could hurt Hingis, still a novice on grass.

    If Hingis gets to the semifinals, she could meet No. 4 Iva Majoli, the Croatian who upset her in the French Open final.

    No. 2 Monica Seles - facing Australian Rachel McQuillan in the first round - shares her quarter of the lower bracket with No. 8 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and No. 9 Mary Pierce.

    Also in the same half with Seles is No. 3 Jana Novotna, maybe the best pure grass-court player in the field, and No. 6 Amanda Coetzer of South Africa.

    Venus Williams, the 17-year-old American making her first appearance at Wimbledon, drew Poland's Magdalena Grzybowska but could face Coetzer in the third round.

    The theoretical quarterfinal matchups: Hingis vs. Davenport, Majoli vs. No. 7 Anke Huber, Novotna vs. Coetzer and Seles vs. Sanchez Vicario.