Court circular

McEnroe purrs but gets his claws out for Rusedski
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Patrica Barnard, a pensioner from Cambridgeshire, has formed an unlikely alliance with John McEnroe in an attempt to end the 60-year wait for a home grown Wimbledon champion.

Tennis fan Patricia, who queues overnight every year for tickets on the show courts, has written a book entitled A Cat Called McEnroe .

The three-time Wimbledon champion read the book and immediately agreed to put his name to it.

A Cat Called McEnroe tells the charming tale of a boy who wants to play tennis but cannot afford the equipment. His cat takes up the game to earn him the money he needs and becomes so good that only the real J P McEnroe can beat him.

The book is on sale at the All England Club and Patricia hopes it will encourage youngsters to take up the game.

"Everyone loves cats and everyone loves John McEnroe so hopefully after reading the book they will love tennis as well,"she said.

"It is great that he has allowed me to use his name. It took two years to track him down and for him to agree to put his name to the book.

"I was thrilled when his agent finally rang me to say everything was okay. He said that John had read the book and thought it was good.

"It would be nice to think someone reads the book, takes up tennis and becomes a champion."

So, we could be cheering a furry four-legged Wimbledon champion in years to come - but who cares so long as it's British!

Meanwhile, McEnroe had his claws out in criticising Greg Rusedski's decision to switch his allegiance from Canada to Britain.

Rusedski, 21, who was born in Canada but qualifies to play for Britain because his mother was born in Yorkshire, has been chosen in David Lloyd's Davis Cup squad.

But McEnroe, at Wimbledon commentating for American television, said on Radio 5 Live: "If people really want to see the true picture they need to see exactly what type of negotiations took place.

"But the bargaining between the two I find distasteful.

"It's certainly not a crime but I should take it with a grain of salt."

Rusedski, beaten by Pete Sampras in the men's singles, has won over the British tennis fans and whipped the No 1 Court crowd to hysteria by waving a Union Jack headband in salute of his third- round win over Olivier Delaitre.

Sir Cliff Richard will head an all-star cast for the Mulberry Pro-Celebrity Challenge tournament at London's Queen's Club on Monday.

He will partner former Wimbledon champion John Newcombe against Virginia Wade and Errol Brown, of the singing group Hot Chocolate.

Sue Cook, formerly of the BBC programme Crimewatch, will partner British No 2 Jeremy Bates against Anneka Rice and Chris Lewis.

Others taking part are Robert Powell, Anna Walker, Jonathan Dimbleby, Jason Connery and John Francome. Among former players also involved are Ken Rosewall, Tony Roche, Peter McNamara, Anand Amritraj and Frew McMillan.

Boom, boom, boom - it's Nasty

Ilie Nastase, the greatest touch player of his generation, believes that the giant graphite rackets of today should be banned.

"Now the game is all boom, boom, boom," says Nastase, who has been entertaining Wimbledon crowds this week in the over-45 doubles.

Time does fly. Nastase will be 49 in a couple of weeks but still believes in being controversial.

"All the skill is going out of the game," he says. "Players like Rod Laver, John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg could do wonderful things with a wooden racket. Now, as I say, it's boom, boom, boom."

So what racket does Nastase play with these days? "A giant graphite racket, of course, so I can go boom, boom, boom with all the others!"

Snap shots

Do you recognise the tennis player pictured here? If you do, you can win a bottle of fine port by phoning 0891-252630. Three winners will each be sent a bottle of Quinta do Noval 10-year-old tawny port, delicious chilled for the summer. Your call will cost about 25p. The winners will be selected at random from all the correct entries received before 4pm today. The answer will appear on Tuesday.

We regret the competition does not extend to the Republic of Ireland. Normal Independent competition rules apply.

Yesterday's snap shot was of Gabriela Sabatini and the three winners are: Mike Williamson of Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, David Godfrey of Bognor Regis, West Sussex and Valerie Smith of Wellingborough.



Yesterday's fastest serve on Centre Court, by Pete Sampras


Yesterday's attendance, down from last year's 22,511


The number of points Boris Becker lost in the two tie-breaks against Andre Agassi


The number of times Steffi Graf has beaten her opponent in today's women's singles final, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario


The number of aces Pete Sampras has served on his way to tomorrow's men's singles final