WIMBLEDON 96

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THE TOP EIGHT MEN

1 Pete Sampras (US)

Born: Washington DC, US; 12 Aug 1971. Home: Tampa, Florida. Height: 6ft 1in. Weight: 12st 2lb. Plays: Right-handed. Winnings: pounds 14.96m.

Wimbledon record: 1st rd (1989), 1, 2, SF, W, W, W.

Aiming to become the first player since Borg to win the title four times in a row, but missed his customary warm-up at the Stella Artois Championships after leaving the French Open exhausted. The death last month of his coach, Tim Gullikson, has also taxed him emotionally, but he remains the favourite.

2 Boris Becker (Ger)

Born: Leimen, Ger; 22 Nov 1967. Home: Munich, Ger. Height: 6ft 3in. Weight: 13st 3lb. Plays: Right-handed. Winnings: pounds 13.46m

Wimbledon record: 3rd rd (1984), W, W, 2, F, W, F, F, QF, SF, SF, F.

Winner of his sixth Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open in January, and did not drop a set at the Stella Artois Championships after missing the French Open because of a thigh injury. It took Sampras to stop him last year, and only twice since 1985 (Doohan 1987, and Ivanisevic 1994) has he lost to anyone other than the eventual champion.

3 Andre Agassi (US)

Born: Las Vegas, US; 29 April 1970. Home: Las Vegas. Height: 5ft 11in. Weight: 11st 7lb. Plays: Right-handed. Winnings: pounds 7.9m.

Wimbledon record: 1st rd (1987), -, -, -, QF, W, QF, 4, SF.

Unravelled by Becker after making a promising start to last year's semi- final, and arrives - not for the first time - with questions being raised about his fitness and form. Has played only four matches since his success at the Lipton Championships in March, but his magnificent return of serve and punishing groundstrokes can prevail.

4 Goran Ivanisevic (Croa)

Born: Split, Coatia; 13 Sept 1971. Home: Split and Monte Carlo. Height: 6ft 4in. Weight: 12st 8lb. Plays: Left-handed. Winnings: pounds 8.49m.

Wimbledon record: 1st rd (1988), 2, SF, 2, F, 3, F, SF.

Usually, when his concentration survives the perils of the early rounds, momentum takes him to the latter stages. Agassi beat him by a whisker in 1992, Sampras disheartened him in 1994. Having engaged a boyhood friend, Vedran Martic, as his coach this year, he won titles in Zagreb, Dubai, Milan and Rotterdam. Could the big one be his at last?

5 Yevgeny Kafelnikov (Rus)

Born: Sochi, Russia; 18 Feb 1974. Home: Sochi. Height: 6ft 3in. Weight: 12st 3lb. Plays: Right-handed. Winings: pounds 2.85m

Wimbledon record: 3rd rd (1994), QF.

Borg was the last man to skip the light fantastic from French Open clay to Wimbledon's grass (1978, '79, '80), and the young Russian has the credentials to make a successful transition following his triumph in Paris a fortnight ago. Denied by Ivanisevic in the quarter-finals last year, his all-court game has gained maturity, and his penchant for doubles play has enhanced his volleying.

6 Michael Chang (US)

Born: Hoboken, New Jersey, US; 22 Feb 1972. Home: Henderson, Nevada. Height: 5ft 9in. Weight: 10st 7lb. Plays: Right- handed. Winnings: pounds 8.3m.

Wimbledon record: 2nd rd (1988), 4, 4, 1, 1, 3, QF, 2.

Runner-up to Becker at the Australian Open, but his third-round defeat by Edberg at the French Open was a prime example of how much faster the clay courts played this season. Will be hoping for an even bounce to improve his prospects at the All England.

No 7 seed Thomas Muster withdrew through injury.

8 Jim Courier (US)

Born: Sanford, Florida, US; 17 Aug 1970. Home: Miami. Height: 6ft 1in. Weight: 12st 5lb. Plays: Right-handed. Winnings: pounds 8.05m.

Wimbledon record: 1st rd (1989), 3, QF, 3, F, 2, 2.

The former world No 1, who was unable to push a flagging Sampras to a fifth set in the 1993 final, has since had the misfortune to be drawn against smart French opponents in second-round matches. Forget eliminated him in five sets in 1994, and last year Pioline capitalised on a straight sets win to advance to the quarter-finals.

9 Thomas Enqvist (Swe)

Born: Stockholm; 13 March 1974. Home: Monte Carlo. Height: 6ft 3in. Plays: Right-handed. Winnings: pounds 1.43m.

Wimbledon record: 1st rd (1993), -, 1.

Seeding according to ATP Tour ranking rather than his Wimbledon track record: first-round losses to Britain's Andrew Foster, in five sets, and Anders Jarryd, a Swedish compatriot, in four sets. Missed the championships in 1994, when he underwent two knee operations. Most effective on hard courts - quarter-finalist at the Australian Open - and indoors.

THE TOP EIGHT WOMEN

1 Steffi Graf (Ger)

Born: Bruhl, Ger; 14 June 1969. Home: Bruhl; Boca Raton, Florida, and New York. Height: 5ft 9in. Weight: 9st 4lb. Plays: Right- handed. Winnings: pounds 12.16m.

Wimbledon record: 4th rd (1984), 4, -, F, W, W, SF, W, W, W, 1, W.

Aiming to win her seventh Wimbledon singles title, her 20th in Grand Slams and the 100th in all tournaments. Beset by injuries in recent years, but determined not to let a twinge in the left knee spoil her defence of the championship. Won a classic final against Arantxa Sanchez Vicario last year.

2 Monica Seles (US)

Born: Novi Sad, Yug; 2 Dec 1973. Home: Sarasota, Florida, US. Height: 5ft 101/2 in. Weight: 10st 3lb. Plays: Left-handed (two-handed both sides). Winnings: pounds 5.53m.

Wimbledon record: 4th rd (1989), QF, -, F, -, -, -.

No grunt, no glory. Muted against Graf in the 1992 final, she has yet to make an impact on the world's most famous championships. Worried about a dodgy shoulder, a lack of match toughness and her uncertainty on grass, but has waited for this moment since returning to the tour last August.

3 Conchita Martinez (Sp)

Born: Monzon, Sp; 16 April 1972. Home: Barcelona. Height: 5ft 7in. Weight: 9st 4lb. Plays: Right-handed. Winnings: pounds 3.85m.

Wimbledon record: 2nd rd (1992), SF, W, SF.

Worthy champion in 1994, when Graf disappeared early, but faded 1-6 in the third set of last year's semi-final against her compatriot Sanchez Vicario. Has reached the semi-finals of the last six Grand Slams. Unable to build on a first-set lead against Anke Huber in Melbourne and salvaged only four games against Graf in Paris. Has the groundstrokes to trouble anyone, on her day.

4 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario (Sp)

Born: Barcelona, Sp; 18 Dec 1971. Home: Andorra. Height: 5ft 61/2 in. Weight: 8st 8lb. Plays: Right-handed. Winnings: pounds 7.12m.

Wimbledon record: 1st rd (1987), 1, QF, 1, QF, 2, 4, 4, F.

Guaranteed a warm reception after her wonderful contribution to last year's championships. Contested one of the great finals with Graf, memorable for a 20-minute game when the score stood at one set all and 5-5 with the Spaniard serving. Projected to play Seles in the semi-finals this time, and will scurry to keep the appointment.

5 Anke Huber (Ger)

Born: Bruchsal, Ger; 4 Dec 1974. Home: Going, Aut. Height: 5ft 8in. Weight: 9st 2lb. Plays: Right-handed. Winnings: pounds 1.54m.

Wimbledon record: 2nd rd (1990), 4, 3, 4, 2, 4.

Lost to Sanchez Vicario in the fourth round last year, but advanced to her first Grand Slam final at the Australian Open in January, and tested Seles in the opening set. The sixth game lasted 15 minutes, and the German had seven points for a 4-2 lead before being broken. Seles went on to triumph in straight sets.

6 Jana Novotna (Cz Rep)

Born: Brno, Cz; 2 Oct 1968. Home: Brno. Height: 5ft 9in. Weight: 9st 9lb. Plays: Right-handed. Winnings: pounds 3.74m.

Wimbledon record: 1st rd (1986), 4, 2, 4, QF, 2, 3, F, QF, SF.

Watch and wonder if serve-volleying will survive in the women's game after rare exponents such as Novotna bid farewell to the courts. Her skills have been denied a Grand Slam singles title, chiefly because of her habit of losing from winning positions, as against Graf in the tearful 1993 final. Beating Seles in Paris should have lifted her confidence.

7 Chanda Rubin (US)

Born: Lafayette, Louisiana, US; 18 Feb 1976. Home: Lafayette. Height: 5ft 6in. Weight: 9st 2lb. Plays: Right-handed. Winnings: pounds 762,000.

Wimbledon record: 1st rd (1992), 2, 1, 3.

Has nursed a wrist injury since April, missing the French Open and retiring hurt during last week's Eastbourne event. In beating Patricia Hy-Boulais in the second round last year, set record for most games in a women's Grand Slam singles (58) and a Wimbledon record for the longest final set (2hr 4min) and games in a set (32).

8 Lindsay Davenport (US)

Born: Palos Verdes, Calif, US; 8 June 1976. Home: Newport Beach, Calif. Height: 6ft 21/2 in. Weight: 11st 8lb. Plays: Right- handed. Winnings: pounds 1.127m.

Wimbledon record: 3rd rd (1993), QF, 4.

Has lots of power but lacks mobility, as her nimble compatriot Mary Joe Fernandez demonstrated in winning their fourth-round match last year in straight sets. Should make progress, even though her first-round opponent's name is Schnell. Pierce could be waiting in the fourth round, Martinez in the quarters.

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