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Henman to face Rusedski

Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski are poised for their first confrontation this year at the Czech indoor tournament in Ostrava.

Britain's top two players will meet each other today in the second round after Rusedski defeated the Swiss qualifier George Bastl 6-4, 7-6.

Henman beat Sweden's Nicklas Kulti on Monday, and will face Britain's No 2 for the first time since he beat Rusedski 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the final of the British National Championships in Telford last November.

At that time Rusedski was the British No 1 and expected to win. Now the tables have turned and Henman, 26th in the world and seeded seventh in the Czech event, must start as favourite.

But Rusedski, whose world ranking slumped from a high of 33 in January this year to 84 two weeks ago, has been in outstanding form during the past fortnight, reaching the semi- final of the Heineken Classic in Singapore, ensuring his world ranking climbed to 75.

Then he won his first ATP Tour event since changing his allegiance from Canada to Britain when he beat Martin Damm, of the Czech Republic, in the final of the Peking Open. His ranking has now risen to 53.

Pete Sampras breezed past the Canadian doubles specialist Grant Connell 6-4, 6-2 yesterday in his opening Silver Group match of the Hong Kong Championships. The second-seeded Austrian Thomas Muster also got off to a winning start, defeating the South African Neville Godwin 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in the Gold Group.