WIMBLEDON, England -- Centre Court will be a showcase of impassioned clashes Monday, starting with Britain's Tim Henman seeking revenge against American Jim Courier for a Davis Cup beating.
John McEnroe caught the mood of that much anticipated match and fanned some flames by accusing Henman and his teammates of choking against Courier two months ago on an indoor court in England.Henman said he "desperately" wants to beat Courier, and the American said he's eager to feed off the energy of a crowd that will be against him from the start.
Courier, who was hospitalized and given an intravenous drip after suffering dehydration in his five-setter last Friday, said he's completely recovered.
Courier's emotional career revival, Boris Becker's emphatic return and Jelena Dokic's extraordinary rout of Martina Hingis in the first week of Wimbledon set up a super Monday of matches kicking off week two.
Venus Williams and Anna Kournikova, the two most photographed and followed women in the tournament, will follow Courier-Henman onto Centre Court in a match spiced by some catty comments by each.
"Tell Anna that I like grass," Williams said after hearing that Kournikova disparaged her chances to win Wimbledon.
Becker, the 31-year-old three-time champion back for his last hurrah, then takes on Patrick Rafter, the two-time U.S. Open champion, in a duel of classic serve-and-volleyers.
"I'm not here to play halfway," Becker said. "It's all or nothing. That's the way I've been playing all my career."
One of the other themes of the first week -- the record run of five qualifiers into the round of 16 -- will by played out in the Court One stadium, where former champion Andre Agassi starts off against the so-far unbreakable serves of Australian journeyman Wayne Arthurs.
Arthurs has faced only six break points against his serve in three matches and brushed them all away.
Seven-time women's champ Steffi Graf follows against another qualifier, Kim Clijsters of Belgium, before an ace-a-thon between Greg Rusedski and Mark Philippoussis.
Court 2, the dreaded "Graveyard of Champions" where Richard Krajicek was buried by qualifier Lorenzo Manta on Saturday, gets a shot at five-time and defending champ Pete Sampras when he meets Canada's Daniel Nestor.
Court 2 also should be packed for the duel between Dokic and Mary Pierce, after an opening match pitting No. 3 Lindsay Davenport against Barbara Schett.