Tennis: ...And here are the headlines for 1999

Independent writers play the prediction game

PROVIDED TIM HENMAN and Greg Rusedski are fit, healthy and in good form, Britain ought to give the United States a keen contest in the first round of the Davis Cup World Group at Birmingham's National Indoor Arena at Easter.

David Lloyd, Britain's captain, goes into the New Year knowing he can rely on the support of his two leading players, while his American counterpart, Tom Gullikson, has to plan without Pete Sampras, the world No 1, if not Andre Agassi, the world No 6.

However, there is no depth to Lloyd's squad, whereas Gullikson can call on the experience of Todd Martin and the vitality of Jan-Michael Gambill even before delving for other options, such as Vince Spadea, Justin Gimelstob and - dare we say it - Jeff Tarango.

If Britain win, the second round will bring a journey to Australia or Zimbabwe, on 16-18 July.

Individually, Henman and Rusedski are determined to challenge Sampras for the No 1 position and to win a Grand Slam singles title. Sampras, with 11 Grand Slam singles titles to his name, seeks two more to overtake the record held by Australia's Roy Emerson.

Steffi Graf, 30 next June, continues her latest comeback from injury.

Prediction: Rusedski to win the Wimbledon men's singles title.

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