Tennis / Wimbledon: Krajicek set to present a real threat: Last chances to make the main draw - Dutchman not seeded despite grass-court victory

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The Independent Online
THE Wimbledon men's singles draw today will contain more dangerous floaters than a scene from Jaws, with Richard Krajicek closest to shore. The big-serving Dutchman has not been seeded despite winning the grass-court tournament at Rosmalen in the Netherlands on Sunday.

Krajicek, who was defeated in the fourth round by Andre Agassi, the defending champion, when seeded ninth last year, is currently ranked No 21 in the ATP Tour world rankings. He was overlooked even though Magnus Gustafsson (13) and Alberto Berasategui (14) did not enter.

Four players ranked immediately above Krajicek have joined the elite 16, including Agassi, who is seeded No 12, five places above his position on the computer. Last year, when a wrist injury restricted his preparation, Agassi lost in five sets in the quarter-finals to the top seed, Pete Sampras, the eventual champion.

The exploits of the 20-year- old Russian, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, have raised eyebrows sufficiently for him to be drafted in at No 15 for his first campaign on the All England Club's lawns.

In the second round of the Australian Open, played on rubberised concrete courts in January, Kafelnikov came within two points of defeating Sampras, who scraped through 9-7 in the fifth set.

Kafelnikov defeated Agassi in the Las Vegan's first match of the year on clay at the Monte Carlo Open in April, and went on to finish runner- up to Andrei Medvedev. The Ukrainian, who was seeded 10th on his first visit to Wimbledon last year and was eliminated in the second round by the unseeded Cedric Pioline, of France, is No 9 on this occasion, three places below his ranking.

The Swiss, Marc Rosset, another big server, is seeded No 14 - four places above ranking - even though he shares with Krajicek a lack of faith in his returns on grass.

Todd Martin's victory against Sampras to win the Stella Artois Championship on Sunday has prompted a promotion to sixth seed, three spots above his ranking. Last year, when unseeded, Martin advanced to the quarter- finals, losing to Jim Courier.

Martin is one place higher than Boris Becker, the three times champion, who is also seeded three places above ranking - though No 7 is his lowest position since becoming the only unseeded men's champion in 1985.

The 26-year-old German, who has not won a Grand Slam title since the 1991 Australian Open, lost to Sampras in the semi-finals at Wimbledon last year after beating Michael Stich in the quarters.

Though the seeding committee will have considered the grass-court potential of the South African, Wayne Ferreira (22), and the Australian, Patrick Rafter (26), they are left floating with Krajicek.

Steffi Graf celebrates her 25th birthday by being seeded No 1 in the women's singles for the sixth time in seven years. The women's draw has adhered to the world rankings, which means Martina Navratilova will bid farewell at No 4, her lowest seeding for two years. Helena Sukova (17), Lori McNeil (20) and Brenda Schultz are potential unseeded predators.

Jana Novotna, who dissolved in tears after being beaten in the Wimbledon singles final by Steffi Graf last season, withdrew from the singles in the women's tournament at Eastbourne yesterday, raising doubts about her return to the All England club next week. She has tendinitis in the

biceps of her right arm.

Players will be requested to refrain from spitting during the Wimbledon championships, which start next week. Signs are to be placed on the walls of the changing rooms, and the issue will be raised at the Club's pre-tournament meeting with the players.


(World rankings in brackets)

1 (1) P Sampras (US); 2 (2) M Stich (Ger); 3 (3) S Edberg (Swe); 4 (5) G Ivanisevic (Croa); 5 (7) J Courier (US); 6 (9) T Martin (US); 7 (10) B Becker (Ger); 8 (4) S Bruguera (Sp); 9 (6) A Medvedev (Ukr); 10 (8) M Chang (US); 11 (12) P Korda (Cz Rep); 12 (17) A Agassi (US); 13 (15) C Pioline (Fr); 14 (18) M Rosset (Swit); 15 (19) Y Kafelnikov (Rus); 16 (20) A Boetsch (Fr).


1 (1) S Graf (Ger); 2 (2) A Sanchez Vicario (Sp); 3 (3) C Martinez (Sp); 4 (4) M Navratilova (US); 5 (5) J Novotna (Cz); 6 (6) K Date (Japan); 7 (7) M Pierce (Fr); 8 (8) N Zvereva (Bela); 9 (9) L Davenport (US); 10 (10) G Sabatini (Arg); 11 (11) M J Fernandez (US); 12 (12) A Huber (Ger); 13 (13) Z Garrison Jackson (US); 14 (14) A Coetzer (SA); 15 (15) S Hack (Ger); 16 (16) M Maleeva (Bul).

Doubles seedings, Sporting Digest, page 35