Inside Lines: Rusedski wants to be the boss - at a price

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The Independent Online

Greg Rusedski has done a lot more than just ponder his own future during the last nine, injury-plagued, months. During his time on the sidelines, the British No 2 has also been having a long, hard look at the state of tennis on these shores. The fact that he does not like what he has seen should surprise no one, but his desire to become the Lawn Tennis Association's performance director when he finally hangs up his racket is rather more unexpected. "I would like to get involved in a few years, definitely," says the Canadian-born Rusedski. "I have some firm ideas, particularly about how we should get more involved with the kids and the parents from an early age." Money, too, is an issue. "Out of the £30m-£40m that the LTA make every year from Wimbledon," he points out, "I think they only allocate £5m to the development and training of kids. That's not enough. Ion Tiriac said that if he was given £5m he could guarantee a world No 1. Well, why not take the risk? I'd certainly fancy my chances with that money." The more he thinks about it, the less Rusedski can understand the lack of fresh British tennis talent emerging. "From a publicity point of view," he says, "the last few years have been fantastic for the sport. Since 1996 or 1997, Tim and I have raised the profile of the game, and yet not many new players have come through. Alex Bogdanovic is a good player, but that's it. I hope that in five years' time, once the various plans that Patrice Hagelauer [the LTA's former performance director, who was replaced by Henman's one-time coach David Felgate earlier this year] put in place have really got going, that there will be a bigger pool to choose from. It only takes one David Beckham-type player to really galvanise a whole new generation."

Sorry Tim, it's game, film set and match

Tim Henman insists he will one day win Wimbledon but, should he sense that his chances are slipping away, he might consider auditioning for a new film about a British no-hoper who is handed a wild card and goes on to win the The Championships. The production company that brought us Notting Hill, Bridget Jones's Diary and, most recently, Johnny English are behind this film, which is rather predictably titled Wimbledon. Sadly for Henman, the leading role has already been snapped up by Paul Bettany, who starred alongside the Oscar-winner Russell Crowe in last year's hit A Beautiful Mind. The obligatory love interest will come not from the British actress Minnie Driver, who spent most of last week's afternoons watching the Stella Artois tournament at Queen's, but Kirsten Dunst, she of Interview With A Vampire and Spiderman fame. Budding actors out there will also be given the chance to feature in the movie when filming starts during this year's tournament. Open auditions are taking place for 12 hours next Saturday at St Mary's Church Hall, Putney, starting at 8.30am.

Queen's lords it over Halle of mirrors

Such is the sudden fervour for tennis during the month of June in this country that it is sometimes hard to remember that there are other grass-court tournaments taking place elsewhere in the world. On the men's tour, the Gerry Weber Open in Halle is the only viable alternative to Queen's, although the German event has never produced a Wimbledon champion. Only once in the tournament's 10-year existence has its winner also lifted the crown in SW19, but Michael Stich did things in reverse order, taking Wimbledon in 1991 and then Halle in 1994. In sharp contrast, the Stella Artois has seen seven of its champions, including the likes of Jimmy Connors and Lleyton Hewitt, go on to win at the All England Club.

John McEnroe swore that chalk flew during his infamous Wimbledon outburst in 1981. Slow-motion replays have been inconclusive ever since, but from now on such arguments will at least have graphic evidence behind them.

The Hawk-Eye technology, which is already used by cricket analysts, will be available to all BBC commentators and viewers at this year's Championships. Taking into account the ball's trajectory, skid and compression, Hawk-Eye produces a simulation of its flight all the way to the point of impact. "Apart from anything else, it's going to be great fun in the commentary box," says John Lloyd, who will be alongside McEnroe in SW19. "On the other hand, it might also make someone like Mac realise how difficult line calling is and also, crucially, how often he was wrong in the past." He cannot be serious.

In the past, the grass of Wimbledon was never quite green enough (or was it in fact too green?) to tempt the best Spaniards and South Americans over the fence from the clay. This year, though, has seen a remarkable turnaround.

The official entry list confirms that only the injured Carlos Moya will be missing from the ATP top 20 when the draw is made on Tuesday. Organisers are thankful that there will be no repeat of the mutiny witnessed three years ago, when Alex Corretja and his close friend Albert Costa withdrew because they were not seeded. So why this sudden change of heart? The official line from the All England Club is that players are just "keen to play in the biggest tournament", but cynics might suggest the keen interest has everything to do with the hardness of the courts and the ever-increasing chances of a clay-court specialist winning.

Exit Lines

The build-up to this game has been very much about a man in America on his holidays. Sven Goran Eriksson, before the Slovakia match, on the ongoing obsession with David Beckham... He dreams of wearing the Real Madrid shirt one day. Roberto Carlos sees the future for Brazil team-mate Ronaldinho... You never beat the All Blacks, you just score more points than them. Clive Woodward on the New Zealand media's reaction after beating the Maori... It was one of the loudest grunts I have heard. Nathalie Dechy has a moan of her own about Russian tennis starlet Maria Sharapova