The vise tightens further when you realize that Spain's Alex Corretja and Albert Costa, who pulled out before Wimbledon in a suspiciously timed protest against the seedings committee, and Juan Carlos Ferrero, who pulled out citing a back injury, have been practicing on clay ever since.
McEnroe's options for singles include Agassi; Todd Martin, who pushed Agassi to the limit before losing to him 10-8 in the fifth set at Wimbledon; Jan-Michael Gambill, whose run to Wimbledon's quarterfinals represents his best Grand Slam result; and perhaps No. 48-ranked Chris Woodruff. In doubles there's the always intriguing (to McEnroe, at least) idea of the captain coming out of retirement But when told last Friday mat Martin had just declared, "That would hurt us more than help us," McEnroe backed off.
Said the captain, "If a guy like Todd feels that way, I take it seriously, and it's best to leave it alone." He sounded as if he meant it, but with McEnroe you never know. Everyone involved, especially Sampras, will be waiting to hear what he says next.
Steffi Graf at Wimbledon
She Sits and She Watches
When the match ended on Monday, she broke immediately for the gate under Court One, escorted by a security guard, moving fast among the fans as they reached out with paper, photos, books for her to sign. Steffi Graf grabbed a pen and scribbled but kept moving, her face wearing its usual slightly panicked expression. People waved, hoped to get a word. She kept going. "There she is!" men and women said over and over. There she is: tennis's greatest fan.
Of all the oddities Wimbledon has inspired over the years—including the streaker who broke onto the court during Anna Kournikova's doubles match on Monday with the words ONLY THE BALLS SHOULD BOUNCE emblazoned on his chest—it is difficult to beat the sight of Graf, arguably the greatest woman player ever, sitting so passively in Andre Agassi's box. She wears a ring with a big diamond, though neither party will say if they are engaged. She claps every once in a while. "Did I think this is the place I'd be?" she said on Monday. "No, I never expected that."
Yet a year after losing to Lindsay Davenport in her final Grand Slam match, Graf has thrown her life into supporting Agassi. She has let her endorsement deals with Adidas and Wilson languish, because she has no interest in meeting sponsors or signing autographs. She has done nothing to build a postplaying career: no TV, no commercials. "She's become a groupie," says a source close to Graf. "She wants to be around Andre but doesn't know what else she wants to do. It drives her crazy. You look at her during Andre's match: She looks like she's in agony—like all groupies."
Because of ligament damage to her left knee, Graf can't even work out or hit with Agassi. Always shy, she tries to think of ways to foil the photographers. During Agassi's changeovers at this year's Australian Open, she stood and turned her back to the court so no one could get a good shot of her. Her face remains dour throughout. "When you sit there, you know they always look to see how you react," Graf said on Monday. "So I'm always trying to be calm. I would prefer to be up in the stands and able to cheer and root the way I want to, but..."
But no, at 31, she can only sit A competitor who could never stay still for 20 seconds, she bounces her leg up and down, up and down, the only visible sign of the energy that made her a champion. "It speaks volumes for her interest in my game," says Agassi. "If it wasn't for me, I doubt you'd see her in the stands."
It is impossible to imagine Graf enjoying such an existence—no action, no buzz, no winning. But ask if she is happy, and her face broadens into a giant smile for the first time in hours. "Yeah," she says. "I am. I certainly am."