Tennis: Rusedksi overcome by slick Rosset

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GREG RUSEDSKI failed to remove his Wimbledon hangover at the Swiss Open in Gstaad yesterday, despite taking a set from the home favourite Marc Rosset.

Rusedski was leading Rosset 3-2 in previous meetings, and having won their last three encounters he must have felt confident of a repeat. But the British No 2, still smarting from his fourth-round exit at Wimbledon last week, never recovered from an early break in the decisive set and collapsed to a 7-6, 6-7, 6-2 defeat.

"I was a little bit tired," Rusedski said. "I need a holiday. I think I'm going to take a break until the tournament in Los Angeles [the Mercedes- Benz Cup].

"I think Marc Rosset played his best game of the season against me," Rusedski added. "But overall I was OK with the playing conditions and think I will come back in the future.

The unseeded Rosset took one hour and 59 minutes to knock out the fourth seed. In the opening set, Rusedski saved two break points in the third game to hold serve, but, when the set moved into a tie-break, Rosset suddenly came alive. The 1992 Olympic champion secured a 5-2 lead and moved into a winning position on the next point with a backhand winner. A double fault from Rusedski ended the set on a low note for the British player.

The high-altitude clay - Gstaad is an Alpine resort 1,050 metres above sea level - has a reputation as a good surface for big servers, but it was the 28-year-old Rosset who took control. The Swiss player broke in the first game of the final set and put the 25-year-old Rusedski into further trouble with another break to go up 5-2. An ace a game later gave Rosset match point and another ended the contest.

Rosset, the world No 35, will next face Arnaud Di Pasquale, of France, who lost to Tim Henman in the opening round of Wimbledon.

The top seed Gustavo Kuerten, who will lead Brazil in their Davis Cup tie against France in Pau next week, beat Mariano Puerta, of Argentina, 6-4, 6-4.

Rusedski's huge serve may become an endangered species if the International Tennis Federation's proposal to slow the game down by introducing bigger balls is adopted.

The idea was unveiled at the ITF's annual meeting, in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, yesterday. The sport's governing body wants a two-year experiment in which balls eight per cent larger but no heavier are used.

They would travel more slowly and bounce higher, giving the receiver about 10 per cent more reaction time. The experiment would be conducted from club level to the lower reaches of the Davis and Fed Cups. A final decision will be made either tomorrow or Friday.