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WIMBLEDON: WHOM TO WATCH

Women

Steffi Graf, Germany

Age: 26.

Rank: 1.

Match record: 25-0.

Wimbledon highlights: Champion 1988, '89, '91, '92, '93.

The line: Simply put, no one has beaten this German pro all season, and until someone does, she has to be considered the favorite, hands down. That she is coming off her conquest of the French Open makes her all the more tyrannical. When all is said and done, nobody's going to remember she was a first-round loser last year.

Jana Novotna, Czech

Age: 26.

Rank: 5.

Match record: 16-5.

Wimbledon highlights: Finalist 1993, quarterfinalist 1990, '94.

The line: Throw all the "choke" jokes that you want. But the truth is this Czech pro has the physical tools to go all the way. The missing piece is confidence, and that will come as she continues to reach thresholds of tournament greatness. If she makes it to the final again, she probably won't be the one crying on the shoulder of the Dutchess of Kent.

Conchita Martinez, Spain

Age: 23.

Rank: 3.

Match record: 37-5.

Wimbledon highlights: Champion 1994, semifinalist 1993.

The line: Proved last year that baseliners do have more fun on grass than most people thought. Obviously, there's no question she has what it takes to win, but lately she hasn't displayed the same zeal in her game she did earlier in the year. A whiff of the freshly-cut Wimbledon lawns, though, could swiftly restore that.

Kimiko Date, Japan

Age: 24.

Rank: 6.

Match record: 29-7.

Wimbledon highlights: Third round 1994.

The line: Who's she, right? Granted, she's not on everyone's list of favorites, but people may be wishing she was before long. Not your typical grass-court player, she is primarily a baseliner, but hits on the rise, which should serve her well on the low-bouncing grass courts. Probably won't win the whole thing, but she'll do some damage before she gets booted out of the joint.

Zina Garrison-Jackson, Houston

Age: 31.

Rank: 20.

Match record: 12-9.

Wimbledon highlights: Finalist 1990, semifinalist 1985.

The line: Looking to exit her final Wimbledon in high style. Judging by her performance in a Wimbledon tuneup event last weekend (she won the DFS Classic at Birmingham, England), she still has some zing. Enough to win Wimbledon? Most likely not. After 13 Wimbledons, does she deserve a last splash in the spotlight? You betcha.

Men

Pete Sampras, Tampa

Age: 23.

Rank: 2.

Match record: 30-9.

Wimbledon highlights: Champion 1994, '93.

The line: Like the movie title says, Forget Paris. "Sweet Pete" is back on the surface that loves him as much as he loves it. Does a threepeat seem too hard to imagine? It won't when he's hoisting the champion's trophy over his head.

Andre Agassi, Las Vegas

Age: 25.

Rank: 1.

Match record: 40-6.

Wimbledon highlights: Champion 1992; quarterfinalist 1993, '91.

The line: His French Open disappointment may say more about the state of his game than is the case with Sampras. Still, he is known to rise to big occasions, and there is none bigger than Wimbledon.

Michael Stich, Germany

Age: 26.

Rank: 10.

Match record: 27-10.

Wimbledon highlights: Champion 1991.

The line: After a first-round upset a year ago, he returns more eager than ever. Has played well in the weeks leading up to this two-week event, and with a decent draw he should get deep into the tournament behind his big serve and solid volleys.

Wayne Ferreira, South Africa

Age: 23.

Rank: 8.

Match record: 36-14.

Wimbledon highlights: Quarterfinalist 1994.

The line: Not your typical Wimbledon contender, but he could be another baseliner to buck the trend of serve-and-volley champions on grass. Comes into the tournament with impressive results. All he needs is a big win over a high seed, and he could get on a roll.

Boris Becker, Germany

Age: 27.

Rank: 3.

Match record: 26-10.

Wimbledon highlights: Champion 1989, '86, '85; finalist 1991, '90, '88.

The line: Wimbledon is his personal playground, the place where he has no fears and feels no inhibitions. It's been five years since his last triumph. If he reaches the final, look for some divine intervention to carry him the rest of the way.

_ DARRELL FRY

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