WIMBLEDON, England — The player with the most engaging personality at Wimbledon can be dull to watch, and he knows it.
Goran Ivanisevic wins admirers with his wit and wins matches by relying on his brutish serve, an approach that's effective but mind-numbing for spectators, especially on grass.
Greg Rusedski's playing style is much the same, which likely means lots of short points, short games and long sets in their fourth-round showdown Monday.
"Me and my friend Greg," Ivanisevic said with a chuckle. "Going to be another beautiful match to watch. Very, very exciting — 15-love, 30-love, 40-love, game; 15-love, 30-love, 40-love, game."
So far Wimbledon has been skimpy on drama. Dominant serves — by Ivanisevic, Rusedski, Pete Sampras and even young Americans Andy Roddick and Taylor Dent — renewed complaints that watching men play on grass is only slightly more exciting than watching it grow.
And there were fewer surprises than rain delays in the first week, partly because of a new seeding system designed to spread the top players throughout the draw and protect them from early upsets. Top-seeded Martina Hingis lost to Virginia Ruano Pascual on the opening day, but that was the only shocker in the first week.
The payoff for fans comes in the second half of the fortnight, with the Williams sisters, Jennifer Capriati, Lindsay Davenport, Sampras, Andre Agassi, Patrick Rafter and Marat Safin still in the hunt.
Ivanisevic's resurgence follows an 18-month slump that dropped him out of the top 100. At 29, the Croat known for his shaky syntax and near-misses at Wimbledon is mounting a bid to reach the final for the fourth time.
He looked like the Goran of old Friday, belting 41 aces to end Roddick's Wimbledon debut. During one stretch, Ivanisevic won 24 consecutive service points, and Roddick got a return into play on only three of those points.
Dull tennis, but impressive.
Wrenching losses in three finals make Ivanisevic a sympathetic figure at Wimbledon, but crowd support Monday is uncertain because the Canadian-born Rusedski claims British citizenship.
"That's going to be tough," Ivanisevic said. "Is going to be all the crowd behind him on that match because it's an Englishman."
Ever since changing his nationality in 1995, Rusedski has been touted as a threat to become the first British man to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936. Like Ivanisevic, Rusedski is a left-hander with a thunderous serve that makes him especially dangerous on grass.
"I'm glad one of them has to lose," Agassi said. "It's nice when you see two big-serving lefties play each other, because one's going to be gone."
If Ivanisevic's tender shoulder holds up, he's the favorite. His record against Rusedski is 8-0.
"I think I've had maybe a total of 15 match points against him but never gotten over the hurdle," Rusedski said.
"He's the one who gets nervous more than me," Ivanisevic said. "He throws some double faults. More important points, I play better than him."
All 32 players remaining are in action Monday, and Sampras seeks his 32nd consecutive Wimbledon victory against 15th-seeded Roger Federer of Switzerland. Federer, 19, won the Wimbledon junior singles title in 1998 and is regarded as a potential Grand Slam champion.
"You know your opponents are going to get better and better," Sampras said. "When you come Monday, you just raise it a level."
No one can raise his game on grass like Sampras, who's trying for a record eighth Wimbledon title and his fifth in a row. But he hasn't won a tournament in a year and struggled at times in the first week.
"At some point in this tournament, Pete is going to have to step it up a notch," said former-rival-turned-TV-commentator Jim Courier. "It still looks like the cobwebs are a little bit around his game."
Other men's matchups Monday include Agassi against Nicolas Kiefer, and Todd Martin against Britain's other title contender, Tim Henman. The showcase pairing for the women will be 1999 champion Davenport against Jelena Dokic, a semifinalist last year.