Tennis: Wimbledon 99 - Court Circular

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The Independent Online
Speed gun shot to pieces by a loser

NEVER LET it be said that the All England Club are reluctant to move with the times. Indeed they are happy to do so, as the introduction of a radar gun this year has demonstrated.

"We always want people to enjoy their visit to the championships," Chris Gorringe, the chief executive of the Club, said. "And the introduction of speed of service should help enhance that enjoyment," he added of the new equipment on Centre Court and No 1 Court that will let fans on know how fast the balls are flying.

One man who appeared to be less taken with the innovation yesterday was the Australian Scott Draper. Warming up with the defending champion, "Pistol" Pete Sampras, Draper unleashed a bullet-like practice serve of his own, which hit the box displaying the speed and left a hole in the side. Sampras then shot down the Aussie's title aspirations by winning the match.

SAMPRAS MAY be seeking a sixth Wimbledon title (and a 12th Grand Slam to equal Roy Emerson's record) but there is no doubting that American men's tennis in general is on the wane. There were more men going into the first round from the United States than from any other country (Great Britain and Australia had 11 apiece), but the figures are pitiful when compared to the recent past. As little as 15 years ago, there were 55 American men in action.

WHILE THE US struggles along with just a dozen representatives (and a mere three of the top eight seeds), one country on the rise is Zimbabwe, whose Kevin Ullyet reached the final of the Nottingham Open and jumped 200 places up the world rankings. Unfortunately for him, that happened too late, as his ranking (being below 550 at the time) had been deemed too lowly to allow him even as far as the Wimbledon qualifiers. It seems a pity, as he has just bought a flat close to the All England Club, but at least he can use it as a base while he takes part in the men's doubles.

THE WIMBLEDON shop was doing brisk business in all the usual items yesterday - baseball caps, replica towels, even the odd umbrella in anticipation of the inevitable rain - but the hottest items of all were the new oversize tennis balls. The whole stock, 60 balls at pounds 20 each, sold out. "They're gigantic," said a saleswoman. "Bigger than a football, but otherwise exactly like a tennis ball."

Could their popularity be related to that fact that Anna Kournikova has been spotted playing football recently and the giant balls could be used to entice her into a kickabout? "I doubt it," said the saleswoman. "Most people use them for autographs."

DID YOU know that 30 of the 128 women in the singles draw have surnames ending in "a"? Did you want to?

DEEDS OF THE SEEDS

Men's singles

1 Sampras

beat

S Draper in 1st rd

Holder

Pete Sampras

(United States)

2 Rafter

plays

C Caratti

in 1st rd

3 Kafelnikov

1st rd

opponent

M Larsson

4 Agassi

plays

A Pavel

in 1st rd

5 Krajickek

plays

C Ruud

in 1st rd

6 Henman

beat

Di Pasquale

in 1st rd

7 Philippoussis

beat

X Malisse

in 1st rd

8 Martin

plays

Dreekmann

in 1st rd

9 Rusedski

beat

Stoltenberg

in 1st rd

10 Ivanisevic

plays

M Tillstrom

in 1st rd

11 Kuerten

plays

C Wilkinson

in 1st rd

12 Moya

beat

J Kroslak

in 1st rd

13 Kucera

beat

Hernandez

in 1st rd

14 Haas

plays

P Wessels

in 1st rd

15 Kiefer

plays

C Vinck

in 1st rd

16 Mantilla

1st rd

opponent

V Spadea

Women's singles

1 Hingis

plays

J Dokic

in 1st rd

Holder

Jana Novotna

(Czech Republic)

2 Graf

beat

L Cervanova

in 1st rd

3 Davenport

plays

A Fusai

in 1st rd

4 Seles

beat

Torrens - Valero

5 Novotna

plays Shi-

Ting Wang

in 1st rd

6 V Williams

beat

M Oremans

in 1st rd

7 Sanchez

plays

A Foldenyi

in 1st rd

8 Tauziat

beat

L Ahl

in 1st rd

9 Pierce

plays

F Zuluaga

in 1st rd

11 Halard-Decugis

plays

S Nacuk

12 Coetzer

beat

N Pratt

in 1st rd

13 Testud

beat

J Pullin

in 1st rd

14 Schett

plays

Leon Garcia

in 1st rd

15 Van Roost

1st rd

opponent

Dementieva

16 Zvereva

plays

K Po

in 1st rd

17 Kournikova

beat

B Schwartz

in 1st rd

LENS MAGNETS

A photo count from yesterday's national press: seedings in brackets

MEN NUMBER OF PHOTOGRAPHS WOMEN

Tim Henman (6) 22 16 Martina Hingis (1)

Greg Rusedski (9) 20 11 Anna Kournikova (17)

Pete Sampras (1) 13 8 Jana Novotna (5)

Andre Agassi (4) 11 7 Steffi Graf (2)

Goran Ivanisevic (10) 9 7 Venus Williams (6)

Pat Rafter (2) 6 4 Sam Smith (-)

Boris Becker (-) 4 3 Monica Seles (4)

CHAMPIONSHIP STATISTICS

11 The age difference between 30-year-old Steffi Graf and the Slovakian 19-year-old, Ludmila Cervanova, whom she beat 6-1, 6-4, yesterday

425 The difference in world ranking between Britain's Arvind Parmar (450) and Albert Costa of Spain (25), whom he beat in four sets

12 The number of aces Pete Sampras served yesterday

6 The number of aces Greg Rusedski served yesterday

3 The number of aces Tim Henman served yesterday

TV COVERAGE

BBC2: 12.0pm-2.40pm; 3.30pm-8.30pm.

BBC1: 1.40pm-4.10pm.

Highlights: BBC2: 9.30pm.

TODAY'S WEATHER

Fine start to the day. Cloud, thickening later. Rain or drizzle possible in evening.

Maximum temp: 19C.

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