Rusedski enters unchartered territory

By way of a change from Henmania, a few Gregorian chants. Yesterday, three years after Greg Rusedski marked his debut as a Briton by losing to Mark Petchey of Essex in the first round of the Stella Artois Championships here, the Canadian-born left-hander became the first player to carry the Union Jack into the semi-finals.

This happened on a day when the Stars and Stripes was lowered: Pete Sampras, the world No 1 and a three-time Wimbledon champion, lost to Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. The Californian, whose quest for the French Open was curtailed by another Swede, Magnus Norman, in the third round in Paris, seemed to lose impetus midway through the second set. Bjorkman, ranked No 24 and climbing, was not slow to capitalise.

The revitalised Rusedski's victory against Australia's Pat Rafter in the quarter-finals, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, was impressive in several aspects, not least the way Rusedski lifted his performance after losing serve to trail 3-4 in the second set. Up until then, Rusedski was undoubtedly second- best to a player whose consistency had taken him to the semi-finals of the French Open a week earlier.

The transformation from the moment Rafter netted a smash at 0-15 in the eighth game of the second set was remarkable. Rafter subsequently double- faulted to present Rusedski with the chance to break back to 4-4, after which he dictated the course of the match.

"From 4-3 in the second set to 3-1 in the third I played some of the best tennis I've played this year," Rusedski said. That is pretty impressive considering that in San Jose in February he beat Michael Chang and Andre Agassi back-to-back and took the opening set off Sampras in the final before damaging his wrist.

"I have to give Pat credit," Rusedski added. "I was pleased with the way I fought, but the French Open definitely was going to take its toll on him."

Rusedski has not had a smooth run this week. On Wednesday, having completed his opening-round match against Australia's Mark Woodforde, he had to save two match points against Kevin Ullyett, a South African qualifier, whom he overcame in a third-set tie-break, 9-7.

A brilliant display against one Queenslander, Scott Draper, earned Rusedski a match against another, and Rafter looked a class act for a set and a half. It was then that Rusedski rediscovered confidence in his service returns, enabling his mighty serve to take care of itself.

The power was there - two of his serves were timed at 133mph, and during the pre-match warm-up one of his deliveries accidentally struck a ball- girl in the back, knocking her over - and once he was able to dent Rafter's serve, Rusedski's grass-court game melded for a superior final set.

Sampras was left to continue his Wimbledon preparations with Tim Henman in the doubles. His form has slumped ominously since he won 17 consecutive matches through the Australian Open, San Jose and Philadelphia. Since the end of February his record has been one chiefly of woe, six wins and seven defeats.

Bjorkman, who like Rusedski found the scope to make his returns count in the second half of his match, is due to play the big-serving Australian Mark Philippoussis in today's semi- finals. Philippoussis beat Henman's conqueror, Jens Knippschild, 6- 2, 6-7, 6-4.

Sport
Premier League Live
footballLIVE Follow all the Premier League action as it happens
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + echSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
News
James Argent from Towie is missing, police say
peopleTV star had been reported missing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

Commercial Property Solicitor - Bristol

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: A VERY HIGH QUALITY FIRM A high qual...

DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, Linux, Shell, Bash)

£50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, L...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone