The No. 4 and No. 5 players in the world -- Jimmy Connors and Andres Gomez -- are the top two seeds in the D.C. National Bank Tennis Classic, which will begin at noon today at Rock Creek Tennis Stadium.
Connors has not won a Grand Prix event this year. He dropped out of the top three in the rankings for the first time since 1974 after losing to Kevin Curren in the semifinals at Wimbledon But he won the tournament here in 1976 and 1978. His most recent appearance was in 1980, when he lost in the third round to Pascal Portes. His first match probably will be Wednesday.
Gomez won here last year, but must settle for second-billing because of Connors' entry. They have played eight times, Gomez said, and Connors has won seven times. But Gomez, a clay court specialist, won the only match the two played on clay, at Hamburg in 1982. If Connors and Gomez meet in the final here next Monday night at 7, Gomez will have his second shot at Connors on clay.
"I saw the draw, and I know I play the winner of the match between Ricardo Ycaza and Pablo Arraya," Gomez said. "That's what I want to look at, and take one match at a time and see what happens."
That would be a wise move. Both top seeded players have a difficult path to the final. The top eight seeds, all of whom get a bye to the second round Wednesday, all are among the world's top 30 players.
"With the addition of Connors and (Yannick) Noah, that gives us an excellent field of all-around players," said Henry Brehm, the tournament director. "We've always had a great field of clay court players. Those two are icing on the cake."
The bad news came earlier in the week, when Boris Becker, 17, the Wimbledon champion, withdrew because of an ankle injury.
Noah, the world's 10th-ranked player and winner of the 1983 French Open and this year's Italian Open, is seeded third. Miloslav Mecir, 21, who jumped from 60th at the end of 1984 to 11th, is the No. 4 seed, and Aaron Krickstein, 17, the 12th-ranked player who was runner-up here last year, is No. 5.
The other players receiving byes are Jose-Luis Clerc (No. 22), Jimmy Arias (No. 27) and Libor Pimek (No. 28), who lost in the quarterfinals at the U.S. Pro Championships in Brookline, Mass., last week to Guillermo Vilas, who will make his eighth appearance here, but is not seeded.
Vilas, 32, a semifinalist in this tournament last year, has been playing his best tennis, advancing to the semifinals of the Pro tournament before losing to Mats Wilander last night.
Vilas, who has not won a tournament in two years, will play a tough first-round opponent in Thierry Tulasne, the world's 65th-ranked player. Vilas, No. 2 in 1977, is tied for 57th. Other seeded players include Paul McNamee, who won the Wimbledon mixed doubles title with Martina Navratilova, and Martin Jaite, a Brookline finalist and a quarterfinalist at the French Open who likes clay so much he has played on no other surface this year. Jaite's first-round match here will be postponed because of his continued success at Brookline.
Mark Dickson, a Clemson product who won the doubles title here in 1983 with Cassio Motta, is the 15th seed, and Lawson Duncan, a finalist in the NCAA singles as a freshman last year, is 16th.
One of the best matchups in today's first round will be Slobodan Zivojinovic -- he upset Wilander in the first round at Wimbledon -- against Bruno Oresar, 18, a wild card entry who lost in the semifinals at Brookline.
In other notable first-round matches, wild card entry Harold Solomon, playing his 12th Washington tournament, will play Jaro Navratil, and Dan Goldie of McLean and Stanford University, a quarterfinalist here last year, will play Jimmy Brown, ranked 102nd in the world.
In addition to Solomon, wild cards were given to Ycaza, Jaime Izaga, John Ross and Ricardo Acuna, who beat Pat Cash to advance to the quarterfinals at Wimbledon.
In the finals of the 56-man qualifying tournament yesterday, Gabriel Urpi won one of the seven qualifier slots in the draw when his opponent, Phillip Tuckniss, defaulted because of heat exhaustion. Stefan Erikson, a hard-hitting Swede, won another spot, as did fourth-seeded Jorge Arrese. Juan Avendano upset No. 2 seed Ronald Agenor and Christo Steyn upset third-seeded Alberto Tous to claim qualifier spots. The final two slots went to Thomas Muster and two-time NCAA champion Michael Pernfors.