Friday, January 12, 2001
Wimbledon semifinal matchup resurfaces early
By Howie Schwab ESPN.com
The first Grand Slam event of the tennis season has a number of intriguing first-round matchups.
Several seeds could be challenged early. By the luck of the draw, there are a few rematches of last year's Grand Slam matches.
When analyzing the draw, men's tennis fans got some bad news. Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, should form hold true, would meet in the quarterfinals. On the women's side, a Martina Hingis-Serena Williams showdown would take place in the quarterfinals, as well.
Here's a look at some of the first-round matches to watch:
Women's draw 2-Lindsay Davenport vs. Jelena Dokic
This is a rematch of the 2000 Wimbledon semifinals. Dokic and her coach/father have complained that the draw is rigged. Can you blame them for being upset? Both players have looked good in warm-up tournaments.
9-Elena Dementieva vs. Lilia Osterloh
Dementieva really moved up last year. Now she faces the world's 44th-ranked player, but Osterloh made the round of 16 in her past two Grand Slams.
12-Jennifer Capriati vs. Henrieta Nagyova
Not a gift for Capriati as Nagyova is a respectable 41st in the current world rankings.
13-Amelie Mauresmo vs. Ai Sugiyama
A back strain caused Mauresmo to withdraw from her semifinal match at the adidas International warm-up event. Will she be ready against the world's 33rd-ranked player? Sugiyama made the quarterfinals at last year's Australian Open as well as a warm-up event at Canberra.
Elena Likhovtseva vs. Barbara Schett
Likhovtseva, now ranked 21st in the world, stunned Serena Williams en route to a quarterfinal berth at last year's Australian Open. Schett, currently 23rd in the world, made the round of 16 in this event in 2000.
Men's draw 3-Pete Sampras vs. Karol Kucera
Kucera upset Sampras in the 1998 Australian Open quarterfinals. Sampras has won the past five meetings, including a victory at last year's Wimbledon. Sampras has been solid in his opening-round action at the Australian Open. The last time he dropped a first-round match in the event was in 1989. Still, this is not an easy opponent.
5-Yevgeny Kafelnikov vs. Jens Knippschild
Why is this match interesting? They met in the first round of last year's Australian Open and it took Kafelnikov four sets to win. It's bad luck of the draw again for the German.
7-Lleyton Hewitt vs. Jonas Bjorkman
Hewitt has been bothered by sinus problems lately. Bjorkman has climbed back up the rankings ladder after struggling through most of 2000. He played well in a couple of warm-up events, losing in the semifinals of the adidas International to Magnus Norman while suffering a three-set loss to Nicolas Kiefer at Doha, Qatar.
8-Tim Henman vs. Hicham Arazi
Arazi won at least two matches in each of the four Grand Slams last year. He reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open. Henman won't have a cakewalk.
Marcelo Rios vs. Carlos Moya
Both men have played in the Australian Open finals (Moya in 1997, Rios '98) and both have been ranked No. 1 in the world. Moya missed last year's Australian Open with back problems; he played well in the U.S. Open before falling in five sets to Todd Martin. Rios looks like he's ready for a good year after winning a warm-up event.
Jan-Michael Gambill vs. Chris Woodruff
It's a battle of Americans with mixed Australian Open history. Woodruff made the quarterfinals last year; Gambill has lost in the first round each of the past three years. Gambill is currently ranked 33rd in the world.
Interesting potential second round showdowns: 1-Gustavo Kuerten vs. Greg Rusedski; 4-Norman vs. Michael Chang; Hewitt vs. Tommy Haas; Kafelnikov vs. Kiefer