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Monday, 18 June, 2001, 23:17 GMT 00:17 UK
Halle winner's Wimbledon woe
Thomas Johansson
Johansson has earned his 11th seeding at Wimbledon
BBC Sport's Chris Bowers on the depressing trend Gerry Weber Open winner Thomas Johansson will be trying to break when he begins his Wimbledon campaign.

A 26-year-old Swede will travel to Wimbledon later this week with the good wishes of the tournament he has just won resounding in his ears.

When a player wins a grasscourt tournament in the run-up to Wimbledon, it ought to be a good omen.

And when Thomas Johansson won in Halle on Sunday, he confirmed that it will be no freak of Wimbledon's new seeding system that he will receive one of the top 16 seeding berths.

Yevgeny Kafelnikov
Kafelnikov is seeded seventh at Wimbledon
But Johansson is well aware that none of the previous eight champions of the impressive north German event has gone beyond the fourth round at Wimbledon.

Henri Leconte, the first champion in 1993, reached the round of the last 16, but no-one has bettered that.

If anything, winning the title in Halle has almost become something of a poisoned chalice.

That is why the organisers in Halle will be crossing fingers and pressing thumbs for their new champion.

Tournament impresario Gerhard Weber has put masses of money and effort into making his event attractive to players, spectators and media - and the plaudits have been forthcoming.

But he knows he cannot afford to have too many champions and finalists who are seen to peak too soon and lose early at Wimbledon.

Pat Rafter
Rafter is expected to make a good run in SW19
Johansson is seeking more match practice this week at the Nottingham Open, though his participation is in doubt after he felt a sharp pain in his left thigh following Saturday's semi-final win against the two-time Halle champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov.

Though the pain did not affect him in his 6-3 6-7 6-2 final victory over Fabrice Santoro, he may play safe and rest the thigh in the week leading up to the tournament that really matters.

As for Kafelnikov, he and fellow beaten semi-finalist Patrick Rafter may well be Halle's best hopes for knocking their jinx on the head at Wimbledon.

Rafter was last year's Wimbledon runner-up, and Kafelnikov is due a good run at Wimbledon - his best was a run to the quarter-finals in 1995 when he lost to Goran Ivanisevic.

If Rafter and Kafelnikov can put together a good run in SW19, Weber and his team will finally be able to prove that Halle is not only a well-run tournament but a genuine springboard for Wimbledon.

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