Tennis / Wimbledon '92: Health worries for Forget: Ian Tasker assesses form for today's men's quarter-finals

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GUY FORGET, who dampened home spirits on Monday with a five-set defeat of Jeremy Bates, is to have a medical examination following the Championships.

The No 9 seed from France, who plays John McEnroe in today's quarter-finals, spent part of yesterday watching Rain Man before turning out in a late doubles. However, he is still worried by a mystery viral illness that earlier in the tournament left him feeling weak and almost forced him to pull out of his second-round match with Anders Jarryd.

Forget, a nervous man by nature, may, however, find that worrying about his health prevents him from doing too much of the same about his opponent.

On paper, McEnroe - 33 years old, unseeded, ranked 30 in the world and supposedly in his last year on the circuit - is the outsider, despite his three titles at the All England Club, but the bookies make the Frenchman the least likely of the last eight to succeed.

'Since I was a kid, my dream was to play on Wimbledon Centre Court in the quarters against somebody like John,' Forget, who has never reached a grand slam semi-final, said. 'McEnroe has put his print on the game, like a Bjorn Borg or a Rod Laver, with his own style.'

Borg himself, who should know a thing or two about these things, apparently reckons that even though there are four Wimbledon champions left in the field - the strongest quarter-final line-up in the Open era - the man most likely to hoist the famous silver gilt trophy on Sunday afternoon is Goran Ivanisevic.

The 20-year-old Croat, who has so far served 100 aces in the tournament, has, however, flattered to deceive during his career to date, a close run semi-final against Boris Becker here in 1990 being his best performance in a grand slam.

His quarter-final opponent today is Stefan Edberg, No 2 seed and twice champion, and, if he is to prove Borg correct, Ivanisevic may also have to negotiate a path past Michael Stich, the defending champion, and Becker - a finalist in six out of the last seven years and a champion three times.

Ivanisevic, though, certainly seems 'focussed' (this year's vogue word). 'You have to be a serve and volleyer to win Wimbledon,' the No 8 seed said. 'Borg, he was one in five billion, winning Wimbledon like that (from the baseline). I'm going to try to serve as many aces as I can.'

Edberg will undoubtedly know what to expect, Ivanisevic having propelled 32 aces past him on his way to winning in Stuttgart in February. 'With his serve, you have to stay in there and wait for your chances,' Edberg, who has dropped only one set so far in the tournament, said.

'I've been playing some really good tennis,' Edberg said. 'I'm hitting the ball well enough. I just have a need to go up one notch.'

Edberg, who lost last year's semi-final to Michael Stich despite winning more points and not once having his serve broken, will be hoping to continue his excellent form at the All England Club, where he has been at least a semi- finalist at the last five Championships.

Stich, the reigning champion, has perhaps the hardest task in today's quarter-finals. His opponent is Pete Sampras, the No 5 seed, who this year is finally looking like the complete grass-court player he has always threatened to become.

However, his languid demeanour and past tendency - like his fellow 20-year-old, Ivanisevic - to go unaccountably off the boil will encourage the No 3 seed.

'He's a guy who can play erratic,' Stich said. 'I think you can catch him on his return because normally it is not that great.'

Sampras, the US Open champion as a 19-year-old in 1990, has never previously got past the second round at Wimbledon, but - especially in his demolition of Scott Davis in the third round - he has had the purists purring.

Andre Agassi, on the other hand, has been happy making the non-purists purr. The predominantly white cavalier from Las Vegas, beaten by David Wheaton in the quarter-final last year, is, however, in danger of becoming a perennial loser.

The 22-year-old 12th seed has lost three grand slam finals and three semi-finals, but on the grounds that popularity is usually in inverse proportion to the ease of early success, he should be guaranteed plenty of support in his quarter-final against Becker.

'Boris has proved himself to be a great competitor,' Agassi said, 'especially at Wimbledon. So stepping on court with him is going to be something definitely memorable for me.

'This could be the greatest moment of my life coming up here in the next few days if I can just capitalise on a few opportunites.'

Agassi will be buoyed by his record against Becker, having won their last five meetings. Significantly, though, they have never met on Becker's favourite surface, grass. Interestingly, neither have any of the quarter-final pairings.

LATEST ODDS: 5-2 Edberg, Becker; 5-1 Stich; 7-1 McEnroe; 10-1 Agassi, Sampras; 12-1 Ivanisevic; 28-1 Forget.

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