Henman jumps rank in Wimbledon seedings

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Computer Softwear, in common with seasoned tennis judges, knows a Wimbledon specialist when it is fed one, which is why Tim Henman will go into the men's singles draw today as the 10th seed even though he is 29th in the world rankings.

Four years ago, the All England Club probably would have been accused of home bias for elevating Henman 19 places above his station on the ATP Tour. But yesterday, for the third consecutive season, the decision was taken out of the hands of the Wimbledon Seedings Committee and based on an independent formula. The system, agreed with the ATP Tour when the seedings were extended from 16 to 32, is based on rankings, with additional points awarded for grass-court form over the past two years.

Last year, Henman was seeded No 4, one place above his Tour ranking. Yesterday, his record of two consecutive Wimbledon semi-finals (four in the past five years), plus a final and semi-final at the Stella Artois Championships at Queen's Club, worked in his favour. Although the British No 1's seeding is the lowest since he was No 12 in 1998, when he advanced to his first semi-final against Pete Sampras, it is an accurate reflection on his fortunes since losing to Lleyton Hewitt, the top seed, in last year's semi-finals.

Hampered by an injury to his right shoulder during the lead up to the United States Open last August, Henman eventually had surgery in November. This delayed his start to the season until February, and he was unable to gain momentum until he stepped on the clay courts at the French Open, where he advanced to the third round, losing to Juan Carlos Ferrero, of Spain, the eventual champion.

Back on grass at Queen's last week, Henman struggled for consistency and was eliminated in the semi-finals by Sebastien Grosjean, the French sixth seed.

Andre Agassi may have expected to be seeded No 1 at the Championships for only the second time in his career, having supplanted Hewitt at the top of the rankings yesterday. But Hewitt, the defending champion, will see his name at the of head of the draw, not that it makes much difference. As the Australian points out, "One's at the top, one's at the bottom." They can only meet if they reach the final.

Ferrero, who has yet to progress beyond the third round at the All England Club, is the No 3 seed, with the Swiss Roger Federer fifth and Andy Roddick, the Stella Artois champion, sixth.

Greg Rusedski, the British No 2, who was out of the game for nine months because of injury, was too far down the world rankings to trouble the Wimbledon computer. "But nobody wants to play Rusedski in the first round," said Roddick, who eliminated him in the third round at Queen's, having lost to him in the third round at Wimbledon last year.

Serena Williams, the defending women's singles champion, is seeded No 1 in accordance with her ranking. The Belgians Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne, the French open champion, are the No 2 and No 3 seeds, with Serena's older sister, Venus, fourth.

Anna Kournikova withdrew from the Championships yesterday because of a back injury. The news is not surprising, since Kournikova missed the DFS Classic in Birmingham last week after aggravating the injury in practice.

Tommy Haas, of Germany, has withdrawn from the men's singles because of a shoulder injury. Haas has not advanced beyond the third round in five visits to the All England Club.

WIMBLEDON SEEDS

MEN

1 Lleyton Hewitt (Aus)
2 Andre Agassi (US)
3 Juan Carlos Ferrero (Sp)
4 Roger Federer (Swit)
5 Andy Roddick (US)
6 David Nalbandian (Arg)
7 Guillermo Coria (Arg)
8 Sjeng Schalken (Neth)
9 Rainer Schuettler (Ger)
10 Tim Henman (GB)
11 Jiri Novak (Cz Rep)
12 Paradorn Srichaphan (Thai)
13 Sebastien Grosjean (Fr)
14 Xavier Malisse (Bel)
15 Arnaud Clement (Fr)
16 Mikhail Youzhny (Rus)
17 Gustavo Kuerten (Bra)
18 Marat Safin (Rus)
19 Fernando Gonzalez (Chile)
20 Yevgeny Kafelnikov (Rus)
21 Martin Verkerk (Neth)
22 Felix Mantilla (Sp)
23 Agustin Calleri (Arg)
24 Albert Costa (Sp)
25 Tommy Robredo (Sp)
26 James Blake (US)
27 Younes El Aynaoui (Mor)
28 Wayne Ferreira (SA)
29 Gaston Gaudio (Arg)
30 Jarkko Nieminen (Fin)
31 Vincent Spadea (US)
32 Juan Ignacio Chela (Arg)

WOMEN

1 Serena Williams (US)
2 Kim Clijsters (Bel)
3 Justine Henin-Hardenne (Bel)
4 Venus Williams (US)
5 Lindsay Davenport (US)
6 Amelie Mauresmo (Fr)
7 Chanda Rubin (US)
8 Jennifer Capriati (US)
9 Daniela Hantuchova (Slovak)
10 Anastasia Myskina (Rus)
11 Jelena Dokic (Yug)
12 Magdalena Maleeva (Bul)
13 Ai Sugiyama (Japan)
14 Eleni Daniilidou (Gr)
15 Elena Dementieva (Rus)
16 Vera Zvonareva (Rus)
17 Amanda Coetzer (SA)
18 Conchita Martinez (Sp)
19 Meghann Shaughnessy (US)
20 Patty Schnyder (Swit)
21 Elena Bovina (Rus)
22 Nathalie Dechy (Fr)
23 Lisa Raymond (US)
24 Magui Serna (Sp)
25 Anna Pistolesi (Isr)
26 Alexandra Stevenson (US)
27 Silvia Farina Elia (It)
28 Laura Granville (US)
29 Nadia Petrova (Rus)
30 Denisa Chladkova (Cz Rep)
31 Elena Likhovtseva (Rus)
32 Tamarine Tanasugarn (Thai)

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