Tennis: Rusedski fails to grasp the advantage

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The Independent Online
British singles interest in the Bournemouth International Open ended yesterday when Greg Rusedski and Danny Sapsford were beaten in the quarter- finals at the West Hants Club.

While Sapsford, not surprisingly, lost 6-1, 6-1 to the top-seeded Spaniard, Alberto Costa, who is ranked 15th in the world, Rusedski failed to take advantage of a magnificent first set against the Australian, Jason Stoltenberg. The 23-year-old Canadian-born left-hander went down 1-6, 6-1, 6-3, blaming lack of concentration at vital moments for his defeat.

"It was mental mistakes rather than tennis mistakes that cost me the match," he said. "I'm frustrated and mad at myself for making these errors. Perhaps I should kick myself in the head. Or maybe I should get someone in the crowd to throw something at me to make me concentrate.

"In the seventh game [of the final set], when I had him 0-30, I had an open court for my next shot. I should have lifted the ball well over the net, but I tried to hit it too low and put it into the net. Then I did the same in the next rally."

Rusedski was 2-4 down before that seventh game, but led 30-0 on Stoltenberg's service before the most vital rally of the match. The Australian had a net cord, Rusedski returned the ball with a net cord and Stoltenberg made it three in a row when he clipped the ball on to the top of the net. Rusedski was left with an open court and had only to put the ball over the net to go to 40-0 and an almost certain break, but he feebly pushed it into the net.

Then he missed another easy backhand in the next rally and Stoltenberg was able to hang on to his service for 5-3. That was virtually the end for Rusedski, who double-faulted twice running to give the Australian victory after 88 minutes.

The fifth-seeded Sergi Bruguera, serving for the match at 5-2 in the third set, dropped five straight games and lost to Sweden's Magnus Norman, 7-5, 1-6, 7-5, in another quarter-final.

"I stopped doing the things I wanted to do in the third set when I was serving for the match at 5-2," the Spaniard said. "I am very disappointed. I think I've lost only two or three matches in my career when I was leading like this."

Norman, ranked No 141, some 68 places behind Bruguera, called it the biggest win of his career. "When I broke Sergi at 5-2, I told myself: 'Keep doing that'," Norman said. "His balls were too short and I had a good chance to attack on those."

In today's semi-finals, Norman will face Costa while Stoltenberg will line up against Marc-Kevin Goellner of Germany, who triumphed over Marian Zabaleta of Argentina, 6-4, 6-1.

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