Import set for duty

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The Independent Online
A DECISION concerning Greg Rusedski's eligibility to represent Britain in the Davis Cup has been delayed until today, amid speculation that the International Tennis Federation requires evidence of the amount of time the player has spent in Britain in the past three years.

The 21-year-old Rusedski was born and raised in Canada, but his mother is from Dewsbury, Yorkshire, and he has a British passport. Rusedski, who has declined to play for Canada in the Davis Cup, says he spends most of his free time between tournaments at the London home of his girlfriend, Lucy Connors.

A recommendation by the ITF's Davis Cup Committee, who met here on Thursday, was due to be discussed by the Committee of Management yesterday. Its decision will be given tomorrow to the Lawn Tennis Association and Tennis Canada.

Britain, having reached their lowest point in the Davis Cup's 95-year history, are due to meet Monaco at Eastbourne the week after Wimbledon in July in a play-off to avoid relegation to Group Three of the Euro/African Zone. That is when David Lloyd will begin a three-year term as the team's captain, with his brother, John, as the coach.

The left-handed Rusedski's potential has long been recognised. He stands 6ft 3in and has the fastest serve ever recorded: 137mph. He recently succeeded Jeremy Bates, the present British No 1, as the South Korean Open champion, adding to an ATP Tour event he won in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1993.

If his transfer is ratified, Rusedski will become Britain's No 1, a prospect not welcomed by some of those who would trail behind him. "Like other leading British players I have worked my butt off to represent my country," Chris Wilkinson, the British No 3, said. "I reached No 1 in 1993 and have fought back after injury so I can once again challenge for that position. I feel this possibility has now been taken from me . . . players like myself will have a large chunk of our ambition and income taken away by overseas mercenaries."

Decisions were made more promptly on the Centre Court here at the Italian Open, where a line judge called a foot-fault on match point against Goran Ivanisevic, denying the Croat a saving service-winner in his semi-final against Sergi Bruguera. Though Ivanisevic's second serve was good, he followed up by over-hitting a forehand to lose, 6-4 6-4, after 72 minutes, giving the line judge a long, dark look as he walked back to his chair. The Croat said he did not make any comment because it was not worth a possible penalty, "But I still think he is what I think he is".

The Wimbledon finalist had just shown encouraging signs of life, responding to losing his serve for 5-3 by breaking Bruguera to love when the French Open champion was serving for the match. The first set was another tale of lost opportunities, Ivanisevic, having been pulled back from 3-1, losing his serve in the 10th game with six consecutive errors from 30-0.

Bruguera, who reversed the outcome of last Saturday's Hamburg semi-final, which Ivanisevic won in three sets, met the Croat on a day when his first serve was so unreliable that only four aces sped from his racket.

In today's final, over the best of five sets, the Spaniard plays Thomas Muster, the 1990 champion. The Austrian won his 27th consecutive clay court match yesterday, defeating the South African Wayne Ferreira, 3-6 6-1 6-3.