WIMBLEDON, England - Looking past the next match is a dangerous form of curiosity for players in the Wimbledon Championships, as top seed Lleyton Hewitt found out when he was knocked out of the tournament in the first round by Ivo Karlovic, the men's No. 203.
But as Wimbledon enters Week 2 with quarterfinal matchups to be determined today, there are growing whispers that this most British of events could see an all-American final for both the men and women.
The women's final, of course, is the better bet, with the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, not only playing strong tennis, but also having experienced the pressure of Wimbledon and defeating it.
The road to an all-American men's final is a lot trickier, but the dream matchup of Andre Agassi vs. Andy Roddick, the old man and the upstart kid, seems almost as likely as not. As a number of players showed in the first week of play by melting under pressure, experience can be as valuable as a bullet serve, and Agassi, seeking to become Wimbledon's oldest champion in the Open era, at the ancient age of 33, is as seasoned as they come.
Roddick, at 20, can still be callow off the court, as he displayed at a news conference last week when he told a female reporter that he did not hear her question, "because I was just looking at you, Jesus." But he has been playing very good, if not outstanding, tennis and on the court he has matured from cocky to confident.
"The biggest fear is the fear of the unknown," said Roddick, who has never won a Grand Slam event. "If you haven't done it before, you don't know yet. But I feel I'm playing good tennis and that's welcome. I feel good, so who knows?"
He will face his toughest test so far in the tournament today when he plays Thailand's Paradorn Scrichaphan on Centre Court. Scrichaphan, the No. 12 seed - Roddick is seeded No. 5 - moved to the final 16 in impressive style, defeating Spain's 17-year-old rising star, Rafael Nadal, in straight sets. Scrichaphan beat Agassi in last year's second round.
If Roddick does get to the quarterfinals, he still has no easy road to the final. He would face Max Mirnyi or Jonas Bjorkman, and if he gets through that, he would likely face Switzerland's Roger Federer, the No. 4 seed, a finesse player as suited as anybody to handle Roddick's sizzling serves.
Agassi's bracket is even more stacked with talent. He plays Mark Philippoussis of Australia today. Unseeded because of knee injuries, he is a three-time quarterfinalist whose huge serve has earned him the nickname "Scud." To get to Agassi, he served 33 aces - but double-faulted 12 times - to defeat Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic in four sets.
Assuming Agassi gets by Philippoussis, he would still have to beat either Olivier Rochus of Belarus or Germany's Alexander Popp in the quarterfinals, and then would meet either Sebastien Grosjean of France; David Nalbandian of Argentina, last year's runner-up; Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain, the French Open champion; or Tim Henman, the favorite son of Great Britain.
With a win Sunday on Centre Court, Agassi would become the first father to win the title since Pat Cash in 1987 and the first player to win a second title after such a long gap. His only Wimbledon crown came in 1992.
"I think a lot of things get harder," he said of both his age and fatherhood. "You don't have as much time or rest, some of the things that do make a difference. But with that being said, you have the benefit of really getting your mind away from the game, and that helps you, too, especially as you get older."
On the women's side, the Williams sisters are the odds-on favorites to repeat last year's matchup in the final, but as Hewitt showed, nothing in Wimbledon is certain. Two other American women remain, No. 8 seed Jennifer Capriati and No. 5 seed Lindsay Davenport.
Serena Williams takes Centre Court today against Russia's Elena Dementieva, the No. 15 seed, and would face either Capriati or another Russian, Anastasia Myskina, the No. 10 seed. If she survives to the semifinals, her likely opponent would be No. 3 seed Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium.
"I don't approach it as the start of a new tournament," Serena Williams said of Wimbledon's second week. "I never even thought about it that way. I just go out and play whoever I have to play. Right now, I feel good."
Venus Williams, seeded No. 4, beat French Open semifinalist Nadia Petrova impressively, 6-1, 6-2, to get to the final 16, but has her own battles ahead.
She plays No. 16 seed Vera Zvonareva of Russia today, and would face Davenport or unseeded Shinobu Asagoe of Japan in the quarterfinals. Her likely semifinal opponent would be the No. 2 seed Kim Clijsters of Belgium.
Venus Williams has not had a great year, but her play has been strong throughout the tournament. She has not lost a set.
"I'm doing a lot better," she said. "I have been working really hard the last two weeks, and I have to make sure that I stay healthy. I know I'm extremely fortunate to be traveling the world and playing, and I'll keep it up."
Today's men's singles
Andre Agassi (2) vs. Mark Philippoussis
Juan Carlos Ferrero (3) vs. Sebastien Grosjean (13)
Roger Federer (4) vs. Feliciano Lopez
Andy Roddick (5) vs. Paradorn Srichaphan (12)
David Nalbandian (6) vs. Tim Henman (10) Today's women's singles
Serena Williams (1) vs. Elena Dementieva (15)
Kim Clijsters (2) vs. Ai Sugiyama (13)
Venus Williams (4) vs. Vera Zvonareva (16)