Tennis: Time for Ivanisevic to shine

WIMBLEDON 97: John Roberts, Tennis Correspondent, sees hope for some of the underachievers at this year's Championships

The scene is dominated by matters relating to No 1 - the opening of the new No 1 Court, the form and fitness of the No 1 man, Pete Sampras, the vitality of Martina Hingis, the youngest-ever world No 1, the prospects of Tim Henman, the British No 1. Above all, the disposition of The Great No 1 with regard to the weather.

In certain cases we can merely speculate, trusting that more will be revealed than the expertise of the groundstaff in running the tarpaulin.

Recalling the headline in these pages a year ago - "Expect the unexpected" - and bearing in mind the vagaries of the French Open only weeks ago, prognostication is attempted with even less conviction than usual, which is saying something.

Clearly, Henman has not peaked too soon leading up to the championships, which is probably just as well considering that the 22-year-old from Oxford has been built up as the best thing since Fred Perry.

Henman's advance to the quarter-finals last year was impressive, and he continued to prove himself a contender of genuine quality at the highest level of the sport until forced to undergo surgery to his right elbow in March.

Although Henman's recent form has oscillated between erratic and disappointing, his general demeanour has disguised anything deeper than a dip in confidence. At No 14, he is the nation's first seed in the men's singles since Buster Mottram in 1982, and his match today against the Canadian Daniel Nestor is scheduled to launch No 1 Court.

Wisely, Henman will be thinking no further than the business in hand, leaving the media to conjure whatever they will of a possible meeting with Richard Krajicek, the defending champion, in the fourth round.

Thunder is the confident forecast for the Centre Court match between Greg Rusedski, the British No 2, and Australia's Mark Philippoussis, both of whom endorse rackets by Thor, regardless of the respective logos.

Whoever remains standing after the duel of the world's fastest servers - "Scud" Philippoussis 142mph, Rusedski 139mph - could emerge as a possible threat to Goran Ivanisevic, the No 2 seed, in the quarter-finals.

"Mentally we all know Goran can be a little bit up and down," Sampras says. "Once he works on that, is a bit stronger mentally, one year he's going to win a Wimbledon because of his game. It's up to him."

Your correspondent's sentiments precisely. The snag is that Ivanisevic, 25, might run out of years before he finds the belief. Perhaps his time has come.

Krajicek found last year that he could return serves as well as serve them, a discovery which inspired the Dutchman to an emphatic triumph. He is not the type to lack confidence as the defending champion. Unlike Krajicek, those who complain about uneven bounces at Wimbledon were probably oblivious to last year's Centre Court streaker.

Along with Philippoussis, the Aussies have another strong challenger in the athletic Pat Rafter, and Russia's Yevgeny Kafelnikov may be due a run after narrowly losing to Henman in the first round last year.

Sampras has experienced a lean time by his standards since winning the Australian Open in January, but the three-times champion is not a player to bet against. The American has had his share of injuries, illnesses and emotional turmoil while endeavouring to run smoothly during the past few years. However, as his coach, Paul Annacone, points out, "When you have a Ferrari, there's not a lot of rebuilding to do."

It is possible that Sampras will meet Boris Becker in the quarter-finals. The popular German's longevity can be gauged by the number of top men he has seen come and go. "I was trying to adapt every couple of years to the new players and the new No 1s," he says. "I started with McEnroe as No 1, then Lendl as No 1, then Edberg as No 1, then Courier as No 1, then Sampras as No 1. And in the meantime I was No 1 for a little bit, too.

"So I've lived through many No 1s, and I was trying to learn from each one, their weapons and what made them so good. That is why my career is so long, because I was able to learn from all those players."

The women's singles is bound to be influenced by the Steffi Graf effect. The absence of the seven-times champion will cause some players to re- evaluate their prospects while others may be encouraged to play without bothering their heads.

Jana Novotna, asked on one occasion why she had never won a Grand Slam title, said that Graf had always been in the way. "As soon as I saw that Steffi had pulled out I just knew somebody would remind me about that," she said. "I was joking at the time, but nevertheless Steffi was always there to stop me winning the big tournaments, and not only Grand Slams. I will do my best."

So, too, will Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, denied by Graf in the past two finals, and Monica Seles, who was beaten by Graf in the 1992 final and has never justified herself at the All England Club.

Hingis, who lost to Graf on each of her two previous appearances in the main draw, may have gained the confidence necessary for success on the lawns as a consequence of her triumph in the doubles with Helena Sukova.

Rested after losing to the inspired Iva Majoli in the final of the French Open, Hingis has the class to win at 16, and Ivanisevic is overdue his moment of glory.

Incidentally, the first ball to be struck on No 1 Court was served last September by Professor Bernard Neal, a committee member, to Peter Jackson, chairman of the Wimbledon sub-committee which has master- minded the long-term plan. They played three rallies.

Then on came the chairman's four for a one-set doubles. The chairman, John Curry, played with Mike Hann, and Roger Ambrose with John Barrett, the BBC commentator. "The court was beautiful," Barrett said, "hard and true, flat as a pancake."

The first ace was served by Ambrose. Barrett was guilty of the first double-fault. "I'm claiming it as a record," he said.

TODAY'SORDER OF PLAY

Centre Court

M Craca (Ger) v R KRAJICEK (Neth)

M PHILIPPOUSSIS (Aus) v G Rusedski (GB)

C Rubin (US) v A Kournikova (Rus)

No 1 Court

T HENMAN (GB) v D Nestor (Can)

M Stich (Ger) v J Courier (US)

R McQuillan (Aus) v M SELES (US)

Court Two

D Pescariu (Rom) v G IVANISEVIC (Croa)

I MAJOLI (Croa) v M Diaz Oliva (Arg)

A J COETZER (SA) v A Fusai (Fr)

Y KAFELNIKOV (Rus) v J Marin (Sp)

Court Three

S Bryan (US) v C MOYA (Sp)

J Gimelstob (US) v G KUERTEN (Br)

N Sawamatsu (Japan) v S Smith (GB)

V Williams (US) v M Grzybowska (Pol)

Court Four

A L Richardson (GB) v S Duran (Sp)

J Tarango (US) v R Gilbert (Fr)

S Cacic (US) v A Frazier (US)

J K Wiesner (Aut) v J Kandarr (Ger)

Court Five

M Maleeva (Bul) v J M Pullin (GB)

J Delgado (GB) v J Golmard (Fr)

N Marques (Por) v M Lee (GB)

S Appelmans (Bel) v R Simpson (Can)

Court Six

A Pavel (Rom) v F Dewulf (Bel)

K Po (US) v K A Guse (Aus)

F Lubiani (It) v S Pitkowski (Fr)

N Kulti (Swe) v M Sinner (Ger)

Court Seven

M Endo (Japan) v G Leon Garcia (Sp)

A Clement (Fr) v L Milligan (GB)

M Charpentier (Arg) v C Pioline (Fr)

A Grossman (US) v K Brandi (US)

Court Eight

J Frana (Arg) v M Damm (Cz Rep)

N Lapentti (Ec) v F Clavet (Sp)

M Tu (US) v I Gorrochategui (Arg)

B Schett (Aut) v A Carlsson (Swe)

Court Nine

J Viloca (Sp) v M Goellner (Ger)

A Sugiyama (Japan) v Y Basuki (Indo)

J Watanabe (US) v M Serna (Sp)

Court 10

B Ellwood and P Tramacchi (Aus) v B Behrens (US) and C Haggard (SA)

H Arazi (Mor) v R A Reneberg (US)

K Carlsen (Den) v E Alvarez (Sp)

F Perfetti (It) v M Sanchez Lorenzo (Sp)

Court 11

D Dilucia (US) and R Smith (Bah) v R Lavergne and S Simian (Fr)

E Makarova (Rus) v T Panova (Rus)

S Stolle (Aus) v C Woodruff (US)

E Martincova (Cz Rep) v L M Raymond (US)

Court 12

C Torrens-Valero (Sp) v G Pizzichini (It)

F Fetterlein (Den) v J Novak (Cz Rep)

N Dechy (Fr) v L Courtois (Bel)

L Richterova (Cz Rep) v T Tanasugarn (Thai)

Court 13

T S Jones (US) v L A DAVENPORT (US)

J Bjorkman (Swe) v C Wilkinson (GB)

K Boogert (Neth) v B Paulus (Aut)

M Woodforde (Aus) v L Paes (Ind)

Court 16

L Roux (Fr) v B Steven (NZ)

M Maruska (Aut) v A Gersi (Cz Rep)

S Huet (Fr) v J Stark (US)

J Kruger (SA) v S De Ville (Bel)

Court 17

D Chladkova (Cz Rep) v S Kleinova (Cz Rep)

D Rikl (Cz Rep) v D Vacek (Cz Rep)

M Saeki (Japan) v P Hy-Boulais (Can)

M Tebbutt (Aus) v J Sanchez (Sp)

Court 18

H Nagyova (Slovak) v I Spirlea (Rom)

W FERREIRA (SA) v S Draper (Aus)

L A Woodroffe (GB) v P Schnyder (Swit)

O Burrieza (Sp) v J Stoltenberg (Aus)

Court 19

D Norman (Bel) and K Thorne (US) v R Koenig (SA) and A Rueb (US)

M Norman (Swe) v L E Herrera (Mex)

E S H Callens (Bel) v P Suarez (Arg)

A Olsza (Pol) v L Nemeckova (Cz Rep)

l Seeds in CAPITALS.

2.15 start on Centre Court and No 1 Court; 12.0 noon on other courts except where stated.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Sport
Esteban Cambiasso makes it 3-3
premier league
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
people'I hated him during those times'
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleFirst memoir extracts show she 'felt pressured' into going out with the Sex Pistols manager
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late
Sport
Lewis Hamilton in action during the Singapore Grand Prix
Formula OneNico Rosberg retires after 14 laps
News
i100
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam