Seeding means tough draw for Henman

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The Independent Online

Wimbledon's seedings computer appeared to suffer indigestion yesterday. Fed the current world rankings, previous grass-court form, and other relevant data, the microchip placed Tim Henman at No 5 and Guillermo Coria at No 3.

Wimbledon's seedings computer appeared to suffer indigestion yesterday. Fed the current world rankings, previous grass-court form, and other relevant data, the microchip placed Tim Henman at No 5 and Guillermo Coria at No 3.

This means that Henman today could draw any of the top four seeds - Roger Federer, the defending champion, Andy Roddick, the US Open champion, Coria, the French Open finalist, or David Nalbandian, the 2002 Wimbledon runner-up - as a potential quarter-final opponent.

Many tennis observers anticipated that the computer would seed Henman fourth in view of the British No 1's Wimbledon record. One blessing is that Henman cannot meet the seventh-seeded Lleyton Hewitt, his nemesis, until the semi-finals, at the earliest. Hewitt holds a 7-0 record against the 29-year-old from Oxfordshire.

Henman will not think beyond his first-round draw. Given a choice of possible opponents in the last eight, however, he probably would opt for Coria, having tested the superb clay-courter in the semi-finals at the French Open. The Argentinian went on to be beaten by cramp and his compatriot, Gaston Gaudio, in the Paris final.

Engraved on the heart of every British tennis enthusiast is the fact that Henman, the world No 6, has competed in four semi-finals at the All England Club. Coria, the world No 3, won his first senior match on grass in s'Hertogenbosch, in the Netherlands, on Tuesday.

By coincidence, the player Coria defeated was Karol Beck, of Slovakia, who eliminated Henman last week in his opening match at the Stella Artois Championships at Queen's Club.

There are no surprises in the seedings for the women's singles. In the absence of the world's top two, Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters, Serena Williams, the champion for the past two years, is No 1, and her older sister, Venus, the champion in 2000 and 2001, is No 3. They are separated by Anastasia Myskina, of Russia, the French Open champion.

What may come as surprise is that the 47-year-old Martina Navratilova will be in the women's singles draw for the first time since losing to Conchita Martinez in the final 10 years ago. Navratilova, who won the Wimbledon title a record nine times, has taken a wild card even though she lost in straight sets in the first round of the French Open after accepting a wild card in Paris.

Beaten by Elena Likhovtseva, of Russia, in the second round as a wild card in the qualifying tournament for the Hastings Direct Championships at Devonshire Park here, Navratilova made an appearance yesterday in a consolation event, the Eastbourne Cup. She played well, too, defeating Anna Smashnova-Pistolesi, of Isreal, in the first round, 6-1, 6-2. Smashnova is the 16th seed at Wimbledon.

When asked how she would feel if she drew Serena Williams in the first round at Wimbledon she said: "I'll play as if I'm defending champion," she replied, smiling. "It would be great to be on court with a great champion. I'll love it."

Insisting that she is only playing singles to sharpen her game for the women's and mixed doubles in what is to be her final year as a player, Navratilova said: "I'm trying to make myself a better player for doubles in the Grand Slams and the Olympics.

As for her critics, she said: "If I read what people wrote I would never have left Czechoslovakia."

Amanda Janes, the British No 2, was defeated by Amélie Mauresmo, the French world No 4, in the second round of the main event here yesterday, 6-4, 6-2.

WIMBLEDON SEEDS

MEN

1 R Federer (Swit)

2 A Roddick (US)

3 G Coria (Arg)

4 D Nalbandian (Arg)

5 T Henman (GB)

6 J C Ferrero (Sp)

7 L Hewitt (Aus)

8 R Schüttler (Ger)

9 C Moya (Sp)

10 S Grosjean (Fr)

11 M Philippoussis (Aus)

12 S Schalken (Neth)

13 P Srichaphan (Thai)

14 M Fish (US)

15 N Massu (Chile)

16 J Novak (Cz Rep)

17 J Bjorkman (Swe)

18 F Lopez (Sp)

19 M Safin (Rus)

20 T Robredo (Sp)

21 J I Chela (Arg)

22 A Pavel (Rom)

23 M Mirnyi (Bela)

24 F Gonzalez (Chile)

25 D Hrbaty (Slovak)

26 T Dent (US)

27 R Ginepri (US)

28 I Ljubicic (Croa)

29 N Kiefer (Ger)

30 V Spadea (US)

31 M Youzhny (Rus)

32 H Arazi (Mor)

WOMEN

1 S Williams (US)

2 A Myskina (Rus)

3 V Williams (US)

4 A Mauresmo (Fr)

5 L Davenport (US)

6 E Dementieva (Rus)

7 J Capriati (US)

8 S Kuznetsova (Rus)

9 P Suarez (Arg)

10 N Petrova (Rus)

11 A Sugiyama (Japan)

12 V Zvonareva (Rus)

13 M Sharapova (Rus)

14 S F Elia (It)

15 P Schnyder (Swit)

16 A Smashnova-P (Isr)

17 C Rubin (US)

18 F Schiavone (It)

19 F Zuluaga (Col)

20 E Bovina (Rus)

21 M Maleeva (Bul)

22 C Martinez (Sp)

23 J Dokic (Serb-M)

24 M Pierce (Fr)

25 N Dechy (Fr)

26 L Raymond (US)

27 A Molik (Aus)

28 E Loit (Fr)

29 D Safina (Rus)

30 E Daniilidou (Gr)

31 A Frazier (US)

32 M Shaughnessy (US)

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