Courier has no shortage of doubters Wimbledon top seed seen as long shot

June 21, 1992|By Richard Finn | Richard Finn,Glantz-CulverContributing Writer

WIMBLEDON, England -- Jim Courier has done just about everything right in the last 12 months.

He has won back-to-back French Open titles on the slow Roland Garros Stadium clay courts. He captured the Australian Open in January. Last year he reached the U.S. Open final, losing to Stefan Edberg.

And he is ranked No. 1 in the world, the first American to be atop the rankings since John McEnroe in 1984.

But, as the Wimbledon championships start tomorrow, Courier might be the most maligned top seed in recent history.

"He is a dark horse, I don't think I see him winning it," said Pete Sampras, considered by most to be the top hopeful to end a seven-year U.S. winless skid at Wimbledon.

Most criticism of Courier is directed at his propensity to stay at the baseline and pound out ground strokes and victories. He has done that recently to the tune of a four-tournament and 23-match win streak.

But, most believe that on the skidding, bad bouncing Wimbledon grass courts, Courier will be hard-pressed to beat the big serve-and-volley exponents relying on just his ground strokes.

"Obviously it is not impossible, but the way he plays, I think it will be tough for him," said Stefan Edberg, the 1988 and '90 Wimbledon champion.

Last year Courier turned in his best Wimbledon, reaching the quarterfinals before losing to eventual champion Michael Stich.

"I mean he can do like last year, but good grass-court players like Stich and Boris Becker should beat him," said Goran Ivanisevic, a 1990 Wimbledon semifinalist. "On the grass you can not stay back."

Nonetheless Courier is not troubled by the previews of his rivals.

"I like my chances on any surface against anybody in the world," he said. "I played well there last year and I feel I can play well again.

"The court is still the same dimensions. I don't think it requires a different psychology for me."

Courier, though, has a believer in former Wimbledon champion Arthur Ashe, now an HBO analyst.

"I think he can win," said Ashe. "He is deceptively quick, which is important on grass. And the guy is a winner. He figures out a way to win."

NOTES -- Defending champion Stich has his own high expectations. "If you win once, the year after you want to win it again. Anything else than winning would be a disappointment," he said. "For sure I can't be satisfied playing just the semifinals or quarterfinals."

Facts and figures

'

When: Tomorrow-July 5

Where: All-England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon, England

Top seeds, women: (1) Monica Seles, (2) Steffi Graf, (3) Gabriela Sabatini, (4) Martina Navratilova.

Top seeds, men: (1) Jim Courier, (2) Stefan Edberg, (3) Michael Stich, (4) Boris Becker, (5) Pete Sampras.

Last year: Graf defeated Sabatini, 6-4, 3-6, 8-6, in the women's final, and Stich defeated Becker, 6-4, 7-6, 6-4, in the men's final.

Odds

MEN Stefan Edberg 2-1

Boris Becker 4-1

Jim Courier 5-1

Pete Sampras 8-1

Michael Stich 8-1

Goran Ivanisevic 18-1

Andre Agassi 20-1

Guy Forget 20-1

Richard Krajicek 25-1

David Wheaton 25-1

Pat Cash 30-1

Petr Korda 35-1

Ivan Lendl 35-1

Wayne Ferreira 40-1

John McEnroe 40-1

Jakob Hlasek 60-1

Derrick Rostagno 60-1

Michael Chang 80-1

Brad Gilbert 80-1

Wally Masur 80-1

Jan Siemerink 80-1

Jimmy Connors 125-1

Carlos Costa 125-1

Field* 15-1

WOMEN

Steffi Graf 8-5

Monica Seles 2-1

Gabriela Sabatini 4-1

Martina Navratilova 6-1

Jennifer Capriati 15-1

A. Sanchez Vicario 20-1

Mary Joe Fernandez 40-1

Anke Huber 60-1

Jana Novotna 60-1

Zina Garrison 80-1

Leila Meskhi 80-1

Amanda Coetzer 100-1

M. Maleeva-Fragniere 100-1

Amy Frazier 100-1

Mary Pierce 100-1

Helena Sukova 100-1

Katerina Maleeva 150-1

Brenda Schultz 150-1

Nathalie Tauziat 150-1

Judith Wiesner 150-1

Field* 40-1

Field includes all other players not assigned individual odds

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