Roaring Rusedski stays in with a shout

There was nothing as exotic as sunshine at Wimbledon yesterday, but a full day of play under grey skies restored some order to a tournament in danger of drowning. Despite an early start and extra time, play on the middle Sunday has been decreed once again, a repeat of the People's Day of six years ago when the debenture holders and the regulars had to give way to the common queuers and the Royal Box was invaded by former champions. Tickets, as last time, will be sold on a first come, first served basis.

When play restarted on Centre and No 1 Courts just after midday, a total of 64 hours had elapsed since the last ball had been hit. By nightfall, Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski, the former with some comfort, the latter in considerable discomfort, had continued the British renaissance and Goran Ivanisevic had provided a forthright response to those who say that grass-court tennis is becoming a one-stroke game.

The No 2 seed singed the grass on Court Three with a record 46 aces, but still lost to the Swede Magnus Norman in five sets. Norman produced a mere 25 in return and survived a bout of sickness to reach the third round on his Wimbledon debut. Norman's second stroke proved deadlier than the Croat's first.

For two sets, Rusedski found almost everything was against him. His back, a source of pain throughout recent months, needed treatment in the morning, his temper was on the shortest of fuses and any resemblance to the bouncy, cocky character who had so impressively disposed of Mark Philippoussis in the first round had vanished during the three days of rain. Instead of Grinning Greg, there was an alter ego whose tetchy behaviour must have struck a chord with the man in the baseball hat sitting in the stands. "Yeah, I saw him," Rusedski said after his 4-6 6-7 6-4 6-3 11-9 victory over Jonathan Stark. "But he only saw me play for the first two sets, so he must have thought I couldn't play." John McEnroe should have stayed to sample the recovery, the first time in his career Rusedski has turned a two-set deficit into ultimate, crashing victory.

"I was trying to make some history on No 1 Court," Rusedski said. "But a victory like that can only give me confidence. No matter how big a hole I dig for myself, I can get myself out of it." Two running forehands which set up a break back in the fifth set when Stark was serving for the match were shots of outrageous courage and perfect execution which would have graced the old No 1 Court, let alone the pristine new one. But then that was Rusedski's afternoon, brilliant in parts, lamentable in others and characterised throughout by his major weapon. In three hours and 36 minutes of topsy-turvy tennis, Rusedski and Stark traded aces, 36 apiece, but the British left-hander added 23 double-faults to his tally, the most notable prompted by an underarm second serve in the seventh game of the final set.

"I just wanted to get relaxed," Rusedski explained. "But it didn't really work." Not much worked for the first two sets as the talented but erratic American, ranked 58, exploited Rusedski's ill humour. Rusedski was given a time violation by umpire Steve Ullrich, an unexpected indignity which fuelled a stream of chuntering and angst from the normally happy-go-lucky left-hander. "Sometimes the calls go against you, but it was good to get the emotions going. It spurred me on." Along with an increasingly hysterical crowd, who cheered every home point to the echo.

The critical shift of power came early in the third set when Rusedski saw his first sign of daylight by breaking the American for the first time on his first break point. Another single break in the fourth set proved decisive and, after nearly two hours, Rusedski drew level. Stark, though, held his suspect nerve, a break to 5-3 taking him to the threshold of victory. But Rusedski saved his best to last, breaking back and finally exploiting a double-fault and a misplaced volley to pull off an unlikely comeback. Whether his suspect back can recover in time for his third round against Andrew Richardson, another big-serving British left-hander, is more doubtful.

Henman's straight sets win over Jerome Golmard could boast none of that drama. The tall Frenchman was once a carpenter and his game, all chopping and sawing, betrayed his apprenticeship. Henman's delight in his display, particularly his service, suggests that he is trying to kid himself into some decent form. Had Golmard exploited a double-fault and a tentative volley in the tie-break and missed another chance to pass in the first game of the second set, the No 14 seed could have found himself a set and a break down. But the Frenchman is a novice on grass and, once ahead, Henman was never going to be caught.

"That was a good one under your belt," he said. "It's the best I've served for quite a long time." Up to a point. Like his first round, he served well when he needed to, which is the sign of a champion, but Paul Haarhuis, one of the shrewder players on the circuit and a sharp returner, will be a much tougher test.

Richard Krajicek, the defending champion, recovered from two sets to one down to beat Andrei Pavel, while Boris Becker had a second straight- sets win of the week, this time over Thomas Johansson. On Centre Court, the umpire prefaced yesterday's play with a reminder about mobile phones and luggage, but you half expected him to say: "And this, to jog your memories, ladies and gentlemen, is tennis." It had been that long a wait.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power