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Wednesday, June 21, 2000
Must-see matches: first round

By Howie Schwab

When glancing at the opening round of the men's and women's singles draws, there are only a handful of enticing matches. The women's side has more dramatic first-round showdowns.

A look at some of the must-see matches (in order of interest):

Women | Men

(10) Sandrine Testud vs. Anna Kournikova
The recent Sports Illustrated cover gal is more than a fan favorite at Wimbledon. In her two career singles appearances there, she reached the semifinals (1997) and round of 16 (last year). She lost in three sets to Venus Williams at Wimbledon in '99.

Testud lost in the third round of last year's Wimbledon. She's coming off a disappointing showing at the French Open.

Given Kournikova's performance in Wimbledon tune-ups, a win over Testud wouldn't be a major shocker.

(16) Dominique Van Roost vs. Jennifer Capriati
Can Capriati regain her Wimbledon form of old? Remember, she made the quarterfinals or better in three straight years early in the 1990s (1991-93). Problem is, last year at Wimbledon she won just four games in a second-round loss to qualifier Seda Noorlander.

Capriati made it to the semifinals of the warm-up Heineken Trophy, losing to Martina Hingis.

Van Roost is no slouch on grass, making the Wimbledon round of 16 each of the last two years. She has also shown good early form in tune-ups.

(2) Lindsay Davenport vs. Corina Morariu
Davenport, the defending singles champion, has been bothered by back problems that were evident at the French Open. Now she draws her doubles partner and the world's 31st-ranked player. Morariu has reached the third round at Wimbledon two straight years.

Ironically, Morariu lost to the No. 2 seed (Steffi Graf) last year. She would prefer to avoid a repeat performance.

(7) Nathalie Tauziat vs. Kim Clijsters
As Tauziat comes to the end of her singles career, the '98 Wimbledon finalist would love to make another serious run. Problem is, Clijsters is a dangerous opening-round opponent. The Belgian is ranked 30th in the world and upset Amanda Coetzer in this event last year before falling to Steffi Graf in the round of 16.

(4)Conchita Martinez vs. Anne Kremer
Grass is not Martinez's favorite surface, as she has fallen short of the round of 16 three straight years. Kremer made the semifinals at Eastbourne, including a quarterfinal upset of Amanda Coetzer.

Chanda Rubin vs. Nathalie Dechy
Rubin would love to post a strong follow-up after reaching the quarterfinals at the French Open. She lost in the first round at Wimbledon last year, so she'd like to make up for that disappointment. Her strong showing at Eastbourne (semifinals) boosts her confidence. Dechy is ranked 25th in the world and reached the round of 16 at the '99 Wimbledon.

Good news for Rubin: Dechy has lost in the first round of her last three Grand Slam singles events.

Sabine Appelmans vs. Ruxandra Dragomir
Both players are ranked among the top 35 in the world. The winner will likely meet 14th-seed Julie Halard-Decugis. Tough draw.

Men | Women

On the men's side, there are better potential matchups in the second round (Andre Agassi-Todd Martin, Tim Henman-Goran Ivanisevic). Here are the best of the first-rounders:

(13) Nicolas Kiefer vs. Tommy Haas
There is no love lost between these two German stars. Haas is ranked in the top 25, so this is a difficult opener for Kiefer.

Wayne Ferreira vs. Wayne Arthurs
The hard-serving Arthurs made the round of 16 last year, losing to eventual champion Sampras. Ferreira has made the round of 16 or better five times at Wimbledon.

(7) Lleyton Hewitt vs. Jan-Michael Gambill
America's young hopeful could make this interesting because Hewitt has been bothered by a bad ankle. Gambill made the quarterfinals at the Wimbledon tune-up in Nottingham.

(3) Magnus Norman vs. Mark Woodforde
At age 34, doubles standout Woodforde is the underdog here. He has made the round of 16 three times and he took Mark Phillippoussis to four sets in the second round last year. Norman lost to Greg Rusedski in the third round last year and grass isn't his favorite surface.