Facebook Twitter



Pete Sampras had to fight for his points, while Steffi Graf had trouble losing them, but both top seeds shook off recent injuries to win first-round matches today at Wimbledon.

Sampras, granted a one-delay in his debut because of a sore shoulder, had his hands full with Australian Neil Borwick before getting his big serve in tune and winning 6-7 (12-10), 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3.Graf appeared fully recovered from a foot problem as she demolished Kirrily Sharpe, an Australian qualifier 6-0, 6-0, to open the defense of her title.

Graf yielded only three points in the first five games, and needed only 38 minutes to dispose of Sharpe, ranked 231st in the world. She was troubled less by her opponent than by the sight of a man in the stands who she said has been following her.

By contrast, seventh-seeded Jennifer Capriati struggled early against an unheralded Briton, Shirli-Ann Siddall, before rolling to a 6-7 (7-5), 6-2, 6-1 victory in one hour, 50 minutes. Siddall was a 5,000-1 shot ranked 325th in the world.

"I missed shots here and there that I shouldn't have missed, and I didn't serve well the whole match," Capriati said.

Also advancing were No. 6 Conchita Martinez of Spain, winning 7-5, 6-3, over American Ginger Helgeson and No. 16 Nathalie Tauziat of France, with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Rennae Stubbs of Australia.

Graf's foremost challenger, second-seeded Martina Navratilova, was to play later today against Australian Michelle Jaggard-Lai, ranked 89th in the world.

Navratilova, 36, is seeking her 10th Wimbledon title, while Graf is after her fifth.

Graf injured her right foot at the French Open earlier this month, but won there anyway and is a heavy favorite here. She looked spry during her brief workout today, often coming to the net and rifling crosscourt forehand service returns that were out of Sharpe's reach.

"It was fine," she said of her foot. "I moved well around the court."

Though Sharpe didn't bother her, Graf was annoyed by a spectator, and went over to the umpire to complain.

Graf explained afterwards that the man, a German, had been following her around, but said she didn't want to give details.

"There's nothing I can do about it," she said. `I was surprised he was there again today. But I don't take it too seriously."

No. 13 seed Mary Pierce withdrew from the tournament because of flu. Her place against American Beverly Bowes was taken by Louise Fields of Australia.

Three-time champion Boris Becker, seeded fourth, also moved into action in an all-German battle with one of the tour's rising young stars, Marc Goellner. Ranked 37th in the world, Goellner has a powerful serve and a Becker-inspired nickname - "Baby Boom Boom."

Petr Korda, the No. 11 seed, beat fellow Czech Martin Strelba 6-1, 6-2, 6-1, but another seed, No. 16 Thomas Muster of Austria, was ousted by France's Olivier Delaitre 7-5, 6-4, 6-2. Muster has never won a pro tour match on grass, losing in the first-round in each of his three Wimbledons.

With the attention focused on established grass-court stars, Jim Courier is right where he wants to be - out of the Wimbledon spotlight.

The world's second-ranked player, devastating on other surfaces, won his first-round match as handily as any of the top contenders but left no doubt he enjoys his status here as a relative outsider.

"I'm certainly not going to complain about it," he said of the low-key media coverage he has received.

Courier, seeded third, was among nine men's seeds winning their opening matches Monday. Only 15th-seeded Czech Karel Novacek was upset.

The bookmakers' favorite, second-seeded Stefan Edberg, and No. 7 seed Ivan Lendl needed four sets to beat obscure qualifiers. Lendl had lost in the first round of the past two Grand Slams.

Three younger, power-serving players cruised to straight-sets wins: No. 6 Michael Stich of Germany, No. 9 Richard Krajicek of the Netherlands, and No. 13 Wayne Ferreira of South Africa.