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Hewitt Gets Tricky Wimbledon Opener

June 18, 2002

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WIMBLEDON, England (AP) _ Top-seeded Lleyton Hewitt was drawn Tuesday to face veteran Jonas Bjorkman in a potentially tricky opening round match at Wimbledon.

Bjorkman, ranked as high as No. 4 in 1997, is a solid grass-court player who has twice reached the fourth round at Wimbledon. But he has slipped to No. 60 in the rankings, making him one of the most dangerous floaters in the draw for the tournament that starts Monday.

Hewitt is seeded No. 1 at Wimbledon for the first time. The 21-year-old Australian strengthened his status as favorite by winning the Queen’s Club tournament Sunday for the third year in a row.

If he gets past the first round, Hewitt has a relatively easy draw to the later stages.

The highest-seeded player in Hewitt’s half is No. 4 Tim Henman of Britain, his opponent in the Queen’s final. The two could meet in the semifinals.

Henman drew a qualifier in the first round.

Hewitt is drawn to face No. 7 Roger Federer in the quarterfinals, with Henman against No. 8 Thomas Johansson of Sweden.

The bottom half of the draw is much tougher, with No. 2 Marat Safin, No. 3 Andre Agassi, No. 5 Yevgeny Kafelnikov and No. 6 Pete Sampras, the seven-time champion.

The bottom half also has Mark Philippoussis, the big serving Australian who is coming off a long injury layoff and is unseeded.

Sampras, who is seeded in his lowest spot since 1991, will face British journeyman Martin Lee _ ranked No. 94 _ in the first round.

Agassi, the 1992 champion, will open against 76th-ranked Harald Levy of Israel.

Safin takes on France’s Cedric Pioline, the 1997 runner-up who has slipped to No. 98.

Kafelnikov has a potentially dangerous opener against Slovakia’s Dominik Hrbaty. American Andy Roddick, seeded No. 12, was drawn against Bohdan Ulirach of the Czech Republic.

Sampras and Agassi are in different brackets and could only meet in the semifinals.

The potential quarterfinal matchups in the bottom half: Kafelnikov vs. Agassi and Safin vs. Sampras

In the women’s draw, sisters Venus and Serena Williams are seeded 1-2 and could meet in a Grand Slam final for the third time in 10 months.

Venus, the two-time defending champion, should have an easy opener against British wild card Jane O’Donoghue. Serena plays Australia’s Evie Dominikovic.

No. 3 Jennifer Capriati was drawn against Janette Husarova of Slovakia, while No. 4 Monica Seles was paired against Eva Bess of Spain.

Venus Williams and Seles are in the same top half of the draw and could meet in the semifinals, while Serena and Capriati are set for a possible semi in the bottom half.

Belgium’s Kim Clijsters, No. 5, and Justin Henin, No. 6, are both on Venus Williams’ side of the draw.

The Belgians both drew American first-round opponents, with Clijsters playing Samantha Reeves and Henin facing Brie Rippner.

The potential women’s quarterfinal matchups: Venus Williams-Clijsters and Seles-Henin in the top half, with Capriati-Sandrine Testud and Serena Williams-Jelena Dokic in the bottom.

Anna Kournikova, unseeded this year, will face a tough first rounder against No. 21 Tatiana Panova of Russia.

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