Tennis: Wimbledon 99 - Court Circular: Korda to face pointless penalty

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The Independent Online
A YEAR ago this week Petr Korda, playing with an illegal performance- enhancing substance in his body, was knocked out of the Championships in the quarter- finals by Tim Henman. The discovery of the Czech's drug use - the trace of steroids in his blood sample is not disputed - did not present an immediate problem for the tennis authorities because it was not until 23 December, six months after the event and on the eve of a week of holidays, that the International Tennis Federation made any announcement that Korda had failed a test. His penalty was to forfeit his prize money and ranking points from Wimbledon. The ITF did not want to let the case drop and pushed for a suspension of Korda who, in turn, wanted to plead "exceptional circumstances" or, in other words, say that he did not know how he had taken a banned substance. The case will finally be decided at the end of July when an International Olympic Committee court of arbitration will make a judgement. It is heartening to know that Korda might be suspended from the game if found guilty. It might show, in more than one sense, that the drugs don't work. It is not so heartening, however, when you remember that Korda retired two weeks ago (having failed to qualify for Wimbledon) and when you know that any punishment cannot be backdated. Around 150 drugs tests will be done this year at the All-England Club. Don't hold your breath for the results.

THERE WERE a couple of battles in the Royal Box yesterday in close proximity to a couple of Kings, but there was no cause for alarm among the security guards - Mr and Mrs Hastings posed no threat to the the Mr and Mrs King in question, who were a few rows away. Although it was a dry day, there were a couple of Floods - the Australian ambassador and his wife. There were also a pair of Chippendales (Mr and Mrs, rather than a duo of male strippers). "They're part of the furniture," said one wag in the press box.

THE STOICISM of the British in the face of adversity was on show as the rain washed out play on Tuesday. Although 16 of 20 tennis fans responding to an Independent poll supported the introduction of retractable roofs (to allow play in abysmal weather) no-one could bring themselves to say they'd had a terrible time. "We've had a good time anyway," said the Patersons from Sheffield. "What can you do?" said a woman from Cheshire, adding that "the atmosphere" made it worthwhile. The most damning criticism came from a Scottish couple, who paid pounds 42 for their Centre Court tickets and said the rain was "a little disappointing." Never let it be said that travelling a long way to get soaked, at great expense, is not fun.

LENS MAGNETS

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

MEN NUMBER OF PHOTOGRAPHS WOMEN

Tim Henman (6) 8 9 Martina Hingis (1)

Greg Rusedski (9) 4 7 Jelena Dokic (-)

Pat Rafter (2) 3 5 Jana Novotna (5)

The total photo count since 21 June

Tim Henman (6) 157 111 Anna Kournikova (17)

Greg Rusedski (9) 93 93 Martina Hingis (1)

Andre Agassi (4) 60 80 Jelena Dokic (-)

CHAMPIONSHIP STATISTICS

5 Jelena Dokic, Alexandra Stevenson, Mirjana Lucic, Gustavo Kuerten and Pat Rafter are first time Wimbledon quarter-finalists.

137 The speed (mph) of Mark Philippoussis's fastest serve during his win over Greg Rusedski. Rusedski's was 2mph slower.

63 Games were played during the five-set marathon between Tim Henman and Jim Courier.

203 Points Tim Henman won in his 4th-round match yesterday.

27 The number of singles matches that have been contested over five-sets.

TV COVERAGE

BBC2: 1.0pm-2.40pm;

3.30pm-8.30pm

BBC1: 1.40pm-4.10pm.

Highlights: BBC2: 9.30pm.

TODAY'S WEATHER

After a damp start, it should slowly brighten up, with sunny breaks but also showers.

Maximum temp: 20C (68F).

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