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No place like (a new) home

The nation's newest hero seeks a British breakthrough today at Wimbledon.

Greg Rusedski, an Englishman since May, will enjoy the home-court advantage on the grandest stage in tennis against two-time defending champion Pete Sampras.

With a win, Rusedski would become the first Briton to reach the men's quarterfinals at Wimbledon since Roger Taylor in 1973. Rusedski will try to do it by snapping Sampras' 17-match winning streak at the All England Club.

"He's got a big serve, he's lefty, and whenever you get those two things on grass it's going to be a tough match," the second-seeded Sampras said. "And he's obviously filled with a lot of emotion, a lot of confidence.

"There's not a lot of strategy involved when you play someone like him. But it should be a good match."

The Canadian-born Rusedski, who created a controversy by switching to Britain's Davis Cup team this spring, became a favorite with the Wimbledon crowd by winning his first three matches. It's his best showing in seven Grand Slam tournaments.

One reason the English are rooting for Rusedski is that their most recent Wimbledon men's champion was Fred Perry in 1936.

Best friends prepare to battle

Friends who meet at work don't often have this problem. Best friends Davenport and Fernandez will go to their office today and make a concerted effort to eliminate the other one from the most important tennis tournament in the world.

Davenport, Wimbledon's seventh-seeded woman, and Fernandez, No. 13, came off their separate courts at almost the same time Saturday and found each other in the locker room. They discovered they both won their matches and advanced to the round of 16, against each other.

"It's definitely going to be weird," Davenport said. "She's my best friend and she's been like a sister to me over the last year. I always stay with her and her family _ they are like my parents. So, it's definitely going to be very weird."

Even though Fernandez is nearly five years older (she's 23; Davenport just turned 19), they like the same movies, go to the same parties.

Waiting for their match today, the women planned to do nothing different.

Davenport believes Fernandez is a calming influence. Fernandez thinks Davenport is a lovable eccentric.

"I remember one time, I was at a Burger King in Paris near the Champs Elysees and she walks in after sightseeing all day," Fernandez said. "She had on these cheap sneakers, and she had blood all over her feet from walking so much.

"She didn't even seem to notice."

_ TIMES WIRES

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