- The Washington Times - Monday, June 24, 2002

As Wimbledon gets under way, only two things are certain on the men's side of the draw:
1) Someone's going to win;
2) It won't be Gustavo Kuerten.
Otherwise, this year's fortnight is wide open and by wide open, we mean drop the drawbridge, activate the bomb bay doors, Jan-Michael Gambill-could-win-the-whole-thing wide open.
Thanks to the ATP's ludicrous, Pete Rozelle-shaming level of parity, almost a dozen men have a legitimate-to-outside shot at winning the title, including Lleyton Hewitt, Tim Henman, Andre Agassi, Roger Federer and Pete Sampras.
In fact, the only big names with no real chance at victory are the ones who won't be there: Kuerten (out surfing), defending champ Goran Ivanisevic (out with an injury) and two-time runner-up Pat Rafter (retired).
By contrast, the women's side looks less like a tournament than a two-woman show. By monopolizing two of the last three Grand Slams, Venus and Serena Williams have set themselves apart from the pack, so much so that the only real debate centers around which sister is superior.
Herein, our look at the draw:
FAVORITES
Pick 'em: British bookmakers list Hewitt, Henman and Agassi as the men's co-favorites. Why stop there? Our take: Bet on someone else (and remember, takes are for recreational purposes only).
The Williams sisters: Two-time defending champ Venus figures to have a slight edge on grass. But Baby Sis seems to own the mental advantage following her Roland Garros triumph. Either way, Richard is the big winner. If he bothers to show up.
CONTENDERS
Andre Agassi: Ol' Baldy has advanced to the semis for three consecutive years; better still, Rafter isn't standing in his way. That said, grass has never been Agassi's best surface, and he last won the tournament a decade ago.
Lleyton Hewitt: Counter-punching, self-styled Rocky is coming off a stomach virus and faces a brutal first-round match against Jonas Bjorkman. The deeper he goes, the more dangerous he becomes.
Tim Henman: Once again, Our Tim carries the hopes of the Empire on his bony, emaciated shoulders. If he can avoid Hewitt who, at 5-0, absolutely owns him a title isn't out of the question.
Jennifer Capriati: Increasingly petulant comeback queen is one of the few players who can slug it out with the Sisters Squared. Problem is, all the winners (and F-bombs) in the world can't make up for a oft-haphazard serve.
Justine Henin: Respected but hardly feared, Little Miss Backhand is still looking for a Grand Slam breakthrough. Won't beat both Williams sisters without an assist from injury or illness.
Jelena Dokic: Assuming her dad can maintain some semblance of sobriety and really, who's assuming that? she could meet Serena in the quarterfinals, the sort of match that calls for, well, a stiff drink.
LONG SHOTS
Roger Federer: The trendy pick to capture his first major title, and with good reason the 20-year-old Swiss sensation has the shot making (and more importantly, the service game) to beat anyone.
Marat Safin: Talent of a champ. Heart of a chump. Even with the babelicious entourage, we're starting to grow a bit impatient.
Thomas Johansson: Little man sports a deceptively big game and is always tough on faster courts. Still, how come this guy has a Slam and Todd Martin doesn't?
Pete Sampras: Gets the nod on history. Not recent history, though.
Daniela Hantuchova: Move over, Anna K. Fleet Street has a new reason to salivate. Better still, this one can actually play.
Kim Clijsters: Baseline bruiser just split with longtime coach. Then again, so has everyone else.
Monica Seles: Couldn't win it in her prime. Which was a really long time ago.
Sandrine Testud: The No. 8 seed has never advanced beyond Wimbledon's fourth round. Why start now?
HOPELESS
Andy Roddick: Big serve aside, Wonderboy lacks the match smarts and, more importantly, the touch at the net to go all the way.
Amelie Mauresmo: Friends don't let friends who are skittish baseliners play on grass.


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