Agassi out to avert Scud attack, Russians await Williams sisters

  • Other Sport
  • Monday, 30 Jun 2003

LONDON: After six days of glorious weather, marauding giants, invading Russians, Anglo-Saxon language and a healthy dose of Henmania, Wimbledon enters its second week full of intriguing storylines. 

Following the first-round exit of men's top seed and defending champion Lleyton Hewitt to towering Croat Ivo Karlovic, the list of possible heirs to his crown is littered with household names and some who could walk through Wimbledon village without receiving a second glance. 

The women's last 16 line-up, on the other hand, has a rather more familiar feel, with 2002 winner Serena Williams looming large over her rivals – five of whom hail from Russia, including 16-year-old sensation Maria Sharapova. 

At 33, and the oldest man in the draw, world number one Andre Agassi's eyes will be firmly set on next Sunday's final. 

The American knows this could be his last chance to repeat his 1992 triumph, although standing in his way in the fourth round is the brooding presence of Mark Philippoussis. 

The three-times quarter-finalist is the last Australian left in either singles, but if his battered knees hold together he has the weaponry to go all the way. 

“They say a Grand Slam only starts in the second week,” said the 26-year-old who was forced to retire against Pete Sampras in the 1999 quarter-final after taking the first set. 

HANG IN THERE: Jennifer Capriati of the US, returns to Japan's Akiko Morigami, during their women's singles, third round match on the sixth day of the All England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon on Saturday. Capriati won 6-4, 6-4. - APpic

“It's time to step it up a notch. I always said if I'm healthy, I'm dangerous.” 

After Greg Rusedski's foul-mouthed demise against bookmakers' favourite Andy Roddick in the second round, Tim Henman is once again shouldering home hopes. 

Fate has been kind to the amiable Englishman this last week, dealing him a comfortable set of cards, comprising of nobody ranked higher than 131. 

The real business starts today however when he meets gritty Argentine David Nalbandian, who is busy proving last year's path to the final was no fluke. 

Should Henman survive that test, he will meet either Sebastien Grosjean, his conqueror at Queen's Club, or French Open winner Juan Carlos Ferrero, the third seed, who has taken a sudden shine to grass. 

The booming serve of Roddick has left a trail of wreckage in the top half and he will need it again to get by swashbuckling Thai Paradorn Srichaphan in round four. 

With Max Mirnyi a possible quarter-final opponent and the talented fourth seed Roger Federer scheduled for the semi-final Roddick's drastic improvement under new coach Brad Gilbert will be severely tested. 

The women's singles should, once again boil down to a battle between Belgium and the United States. 

Serena Williams will relish the chance for revenge over Justin Henin-Hardenne after she was booed by the French crowd during her semi-final defeat at Roland Garros. The pair are seeded to meet in the semi-finals, and it is hard to see anybody changing that script, although Williams will be wary of a quarter-final match-up with Jennifer Capriati. 

Venus, seeded four this year, but desperate to reassert herself in the family pecking order after watching her sister sweep all before her last year, will also have revenge on her mind when she takes on 18-year-old Russian Vera Zvonareva who produced a stunning display to beat her in Paris. 

Zvonareva is joined by compatriots Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anastasia Myskina, Elena Dementieva and of course Sharapova. 

Whether or not any of them can gatecrash the party, whether Tim can spark delirium on Henman Hill or whether Roddick can become the new American hero, the next seven days promises to be enthralling viewing. – Reuters 

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