Wimbledon `99: In The Court Of The 16 Women's Seeds

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1

Martina Hingis

Swit; age 8; ranked

Good. After being knocked out in the first round in 995 and the fourth in 996, she won in 997 and made the semi-finals last year.

Followed her fifth Grand Slam title at Australian Open with victory in Tokyo. Reached the final of French Open but lost to Steffi Graf.

Some things are just meant to be. A rematch with Graf in the final is the dream ticket. Martina should be there, but will Steffi? Odds: 2- favourite.

"She is a great champion."

On Steffi Graf.

2

Steffi Graf

Ger; age 30; ranked 3

Do you need reminding? She has won seven singles titles, including a hat-trick between 99-93. Third- round exit last year, though.

Made steady progress. First got to the semis in Sydney, then quarters at Australian Open, before completing the comeback in Paris.

You get a feeling this is her last Wimbledon. Has graced the grass of SW9 for so long that few would begrudge her a farewell title. Apart from Hingis in the final. 4-

"I think it is positive that players are in better shape."

On Mary Pierce and her new physique.

3

Lindsay Davenport

US; age 23; ranked 2

Surprisingly poor. Tall and powerful, yet has never progressed beyond the quarter-finals, which she reached both in 994 and last year.

Won the first tournament of 999 in Sydney as world No . Also reached semi-finals of Australian Open and quarters at French.

Should have little trouble getting to the quarter-finals, where she will probably face Jana Novotna. After that, who knows. 8-

"I thought I was playing a guy."

On Amelie Mauresmo.

4

Monica Seles

US; age 25; ranked 4

Close. It's the only Grand Slam title to elude her so far. She made the quarters last year, and the final the year before her stabbing, in 992.

Won 20 of her last 24 matches in 998, and got to semis at Australian Open, where she set a new record of 33 matches without loss.

Could meet Jennifer Capriati in quarter-finals. Otherwise has little to worry about until the semi-finals, where she is likely to face Steffi Graf. 6-

"When you look back at Steffi, she had the same arrogance on court when she was the top player. When you're No you have that a bit."

On Steffi Graf.

5

Jana Novotna

Cz Rep; age 30; ranked 5

Very consistent. She is defending champion, twice finalist, once semi-finalist, and three-time quarter-finalist. All in the last nine years.

Won in Hanover without dropping a set, but went out in third round of Australian Open. Had to pull out of Eastbourne with ankle injury.

The forced withdrawal at the French Open when she hurt herself in a doubles match means she has had little grass practice. Quarter against Davenport is key. 0-

"Playing Martina ia always a pleasure for me."

On Martina Hingis.

6

Venus Williams

US; age 9; ranked 6

Getting better. After her first-round exit in 997, she reached the quarter-finals last year, before losing to the eventual winner, Jana Novotna.

Having a great season. Won in Oklahoma, reached Hanover final, and quarters of Australian Open - her sixth Slam quarter in a row.

Should have few problems until round four, where she could face another teenager, Anna Kournikova. Win that tie, and Graf is likely to be awaiting in quarters. 7-2

"It's definitely tough playing your sister. Serena has proved how good she is, it's so great and so exciting."

On Serena, sadly missing this year.

7

Arantxa Sanchez

Spain; age 27; ranked 7

The unlucky one. A finalist in 995 and 996, semi-finalist in 997 and a quarter-finalist last year, her form here is, if anything, on the wane.

After an impressive 998, this has been a poor season by her standards. Beaten semi-finalist in Paris; out in round two at Eastbourne.

Could this be lucky 3 for Sanchez? Unlikely. You feel she had her chance. May play Martinez in round three. Won't go beyond quarter- finals. 66-

"She tried to hit me and then went away laughing. She showed me no respect at all. I'm glad I taught her a lesson."

On Serena Williams. Sadly missed?

8

Nathalie Tauziat

Fra; age 3; ranked 9

Late developer. Made only two quarter-finals in 4 years, until her losing final appearance in 998. Getting better with age.

Only last year, at the age of 30, did she finally break into the Top 0. In Hanover, she became only the 8th woman to win 500 matches.

Possible third-round encounter with Capriati is interesting, as would be a quarter against Monica Seles. Will struggle to repeat last year's results. 80-

"I play Novotna many times. I beat her. She beat me. If I play my best tennis, I think I can win."

On Jana Novotna before her defeat in last year's final.

9

Mary Pierce

Fr; age 24; ranked 8

Unimpressive. Considering her fire-power, it is surprising to note she has only reached one quarter (in 996). First-round exit last year.

Won last 0 matches of 998. Got to final in first event of '99 at Gold Coast, and quarters in Melbourne, but second-round victim in Paris.

Lacks the natural serve-and-volley game needed on grass, and temperament is still dodgy. But her new-found "power" may help her reach the fourth round. 40-

"We always have fun matches, exciting matches."

On Martina Hingis.

Julie Halard-Decugis

Fr; age 28; ranked

Awful. Four exits in the first round and three in the second. Best result in recent years came in 998, when she reached round three.

Won in Auckland in January and Edgbaston in June. Still not world class, but she is a dangerous player on her day.

Fourth-round match against Martinez or Sanchez Vicario must be the target. Might just make it there for a change. 50-

"It is certainly the most beautiful victory in my career."

On beating Iva Majoli.

(0th seed Serena Williams has withdrawn through illness)

2

Amanda Coetzer

SA; age 27; ranked 2

Nothing to write home about. Is two her least favourite number? She has gone out in round two seven times in the last 0 years.

Reached fourth round of Australian Open and two successive finals, in Tokyo and Oklahoma respectively. Out first round in Paris.

Lacks a true grass-court game and struggles to generate enough power on her serve because of her lack of height. Round three is the target. 25-

"Mirjana is an incredible girl."

On Mirjana Lucic.

3

Sandrine Testud

Fr; age 27; ranked 3

On the up. Since 992, there have been three first-round exits, two in the second and two in the fourth. So she's getting there.

One of six players to win 50 matches in 998, she reached round four of Australian Open, but departed Paris after the second.

Must fancy her chances to make it to the fourth round once more, but she is likely to find Seles too strong as she attempts to reach her first quarter-final. 00-

"There's nothing much you can do. What makes a big difference is that she is so powerful."

On Serena Williams, who won't make a difference this time.

4

Barbara Schett

Aut; age 23; ranked 4

Abismal. How can someone who has lost at Wimbledon in the second round for the last three years on the trot possibly be seeded?

Semi-finalist on the Hardcourts of Auckland and a quarter-finalist in Hanover.

Potential tough second-round against Dechaume-Balleret. She may just reach the third round this time around. 00-

"I don't think you will see too many new players who play like her."

On Arantxa Sanchez Vicario.

5

Dominique van Roost

Bel; age 26; ranked 6

Non-existent. Never progressed beyond the fourth round in seven attempts, though her best result did come last year.

Finished last year ranked No 9 in the world, making her the first Belgian woman to break into the Top 0. Form of late has dipped.

Will be incredibly relieved that Kournikova is no longer her first opponent. Might actually make the second round now. 50-

"Anna is the most famous player in the world right now, more so than [Martina] Hingis."

On Kournikova.

6

Natasha Zvereva

Bela; age 28; ranked 7

Up-and-down. After reaching three quarter-finals in the early Nineties, she made an incredible comeback by making it to the semis last year.

Always more comfortable in the doubles in which she has won eight tournaments in the last 2 months.

Sneaked into the seedings after the withdrawal of Amelie Mauresmo. Her match with Patty Schnyder in round three could prove costly to her chances. 50-

"I don't know if it was the 8th, 20th or 25th time, but I've done it. Wow! I don't know, but I've done it and I feel great."

On beating Steffi Graf for first time.

7

Anna Kournikova

Rus; age 8; ranked 8

Short and sweet. She has only played here once, in 997, when she reached the semi-finals.

Won first Slam title in the doubles with Hingis at Australian Open. Also reached fourth round in singles. Lost in semis at Eastbourne.

Should probably have been seeded in the first place, but only crept in the back door due to Serena Williams' flu. Now at the party, she could actually do well. 33-

"I am really lucky to be playing with Martina."

On Martina Hingis, her new doubles partner.

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