Tennis: Queen's foibles attract the elite

A NEAR miss at Wimbledon last year has prompted Goran Ivanisevic to utilise the splendid grass courts at Queen's Club for his preparation for this year's tournament. The Croat, who served 206 aces and finished runner-up to Andre Agassi, joins two former Wimbledon champions in the field for the Stella Artois title from 7 to 13 June.

Michael Stich returns to Queen's for the first time since his Wimbledon triumph in 1991, and Stefan Edberg, the Wimbledon champion in 1988 and 1990, also intends to hone his serve-volley game on the lawns at Queen's.

It was widely anticipated that Pete Sampras, the 1990 United States Open champion, would make an impact at Wimbledon. The young American considers he is still serving an apprenticeship in the foibles of the grass-court game, and this will continue at Queen's.

Boris Becker, who won the Stella title in 1985 and three weeks later become Wimbledon's youngest men's singles champion, has asked for a wild card to be held for him. His participation at Queen's depends on how far he progresses in the French Open on the clay of Paris. Pat Cash, the 1987 Wimbledon champion, will also be offered a wild card if he shows a semblance of the fitness that took him to the quarter-finals at Queen's last year.

Ivan Lendl, who won the Stella in 1990, is another contender, along with last year's champion, the South African Wayne Ferreira. The prize-money this year, the 15th since the brewers began their sponsorship of the event, has increased by pounds 62,750 to pounds 425,000. The winner will receive pounds 60,000.