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It’s lonely near the top for Roddick

Associated Press

LONDON – Andy Roddick jumped to the No. 2 seeding for Wimbledon on Wednesday, the first time just one American man was seeded in the top 16 at the event, and he could face No. 1 Roger Federer in a rematch of last year’s final.

While Federer’s seeding matched his ATP Tour standing, Roddick was pushed two spots higher than his ranking, ahead of 2002 Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt and French Open champion Rafael Nadal.

Hewitt was seeded No. 3, with Nadal – who has little experience on grass – at No. 4.

Federer beat Roddick 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (3), 6-4 for the 2004 title, the Swiss star’s second straight at the All England Club. He has four Grand Slam championships; Roddick has one, at the 2003 U.S. Open.

The seedings matched the rankings for the top eight women, led by No. 1 Lindsay Davenport. She was followed by defending champion Maria Sharapova, Amelie Mauresmo, and 2002-03 champion Serena Williams, who was upset by Sharapova in the 2004 final. There are seven Russians among the top 13 women.

The tournament’s draw will be held today.

Andre Agassi, the 1992 Wimbledon champion and owner of eight major titles, pulled out Tuesday because of an injury. The 35-year-old American is ranked sixth in the world.

His withdrawal means that after Roddick, the highest-seeded U.S. man is No. 24 Taylor Dent. It’s the first time that there weren’t at least two Americans in the top 16 since Wimbledon first had at least that many men seeded, in 1968. The tournament doubled the number of seeded players to 32 in 2001.

“It is worrisome to me,” U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe said in a conference call.

“Clearly, with the exception of Roddick, the other guys who have been knocking on the door of becoming top-20 players … have not gotten there.”

Last weekend, Federer won the Wimbledon grass-court tuneup at Halle, Germany, for the third straight year. He’s won 29 straight matches on grass; his last loss on the surface was in June 2002 against Mario Ancic in the first round at Wimbledon.

Roddick won the Queen’s Club title in London for the third consecutive year on Sunday. He said he thought Hewitt would get the No. 2 seeding.

“You know, either way, I don’t think either one of us can be too upset,” Roddick said a few days before the seedings were announced. “Common knowledge is that you’re going to have to beat the best players somewhere along the way.”

Ninth-ranked Alicia Molik withdrew Wednesday, citing an inner-ear infection. Jennifer Capriati, ranked 27th, missed the French Open because of an injury and was not included in the final entry list for Wimbledon.

Venus Williams, the 2000-01 Wimbledon champion, was seeded 14th, two spots above her current WTA Tour ranking. She lost to Karolina Sprem in the second round of the grass-court major last year, when the chair umpire awarded Sprem an extra point, and lost to 15-year-old Bulgarian Sesil Karatantcheva in the third round of the French Open last month.

Serena Williams missed the French Open after struggling with an ankle strain since May. As usual, neither sister played in a Wimbledon tuneup on grass.

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