Rusedski set to play for Britain

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The Independent Online
TENNIS

JOHN ROBERTS

reports from Stuttgart

Greg Rusedski's father came from Germany, and was of Polish-Ukrainian descent, but his mother was born and raised in Yorkshire. As far as the beleaguered Lawn Tennis Association is concerned, there's now't wrong with gradely folk, especially if they can use a racket.

Rusedski's transfer from Canada to join the British Davis Cup team is finally under way. The key question appears to be whether the tall, 21- year-old left-hander from Montreal, whose serve is the fastest recorded on the ATP Tour (137mph), is able to play next year or will be required to fulfil the International Tennis Federation's three-year residential qualification.

He holds a British passport and is expected to contend that the address of his British girlfriend has been his base for the past two years. Rusedski recently made a voluntary six-figure donation to Tennis Canada in appreciation of the support he has received over the years.

A former Canadian junior champion, he represented the country in the 1988 World Youth Cup, but has not played in the Davis Cup. Currently the world No 74, he was ranked as high as No 41 last June.

The LTA awaits official confirmation of Rusedski's decision to compete under the British banner and will then make a representation to the ITF on his behalf. "It would be great if this was to come to pass," Ian Peacock, the LTA's chief executive, said yesterday. "I know David Lloyd [the Davis Cup captain elect] would be delighted."

The Canadians are less than ecstatic. "If Greg really considers himself to be more British than Canadian, and that's really where he wants to live and play, we're not going to stop him," said Robert Bettauer, general manager of the Canadian Davis Cup team. "I simply hope he makes the choice for the right reasons."

Here in Boris Beckerland, Germany's favourite tennis son has advanced to the semi-finals of the Eurocard Open, and will play his compatriot and arch rival, Michael Stich, this afternoon.

Five days days after missing a match point and double-faulting to lose a tie-break against Yevgeny Kafelnikov in the Milan final, Becker was able to subdue the Russian in two consecutive shoot-outs.

Kafelnikov, who has been affected by a virus all week, had to take a time-out for a nose bleed towards the end of the opening set. "It happens quite often," the seventh seed said. "It's a sign that my body is tired."

Becker, the No 1 seed, contributed to his opponent's fatigue by keeping him on the move and picking his shots to terminate some lively exchanges. The former Wimbledon champion won the first tie-break, 7-4, and whipped through the second, 7-1. Stich also defeated a Russian, Alexander Volkov, 6-2, 7-5, after experiencing minor difficulty during the second set.

An unseeded finalist is guaranteed, Richard Krajicek meeting Martin Damm today for the privilege. Krajicek would love an opportunity to erase the memory of his final here two years ago against Stich.

Believing he had saved a match point with an ace, the Dutchman was stunned when the German umpire overruled a call in the corner of the far service box. Stich secured victory off Krajicek's second serve, and the Dutchman was too upset to come to the interview room.

"I'm reminded of that final from time to time, but it's not an obsession or anything," Krajicek said after defeating Sweden's Magnus Larsson in the quarter-finals yesterday, 6-3, 6-7, 7-6.

Peter Richter (the name means judge), who made the overrule in 1993, lost his job as an umpire last year and is now involved in his father's swimwear business in Hong Kong.

Damm, a Czech qualifer, continued an impressive week by defeating Jan Siemerink, a Dutch lucky loser, 6-4, 6-4. Whatever happens now, Damm is guaranteed $110,000 (£70,000) - which equals the first prize for this week's ATP Tour event in Philadelphia.

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