Tennis: Rusedski fells the tall guy

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GREG RUSEDSKI, the British No 1, gained his first tournament victory since October by beating the defending champion, Marc Rosset, yesterday in the final of the European Community Championship in Antwerp.

Monaco-based Rosset, at 6ft 7in the tallest man on the ATP Tour, had been hoping for his second British scalp in an Antwerp final, having beaten Tim Henman 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 in this event last year.

But the 24-year-old Rusedski, whose last tournament success was in Basle, won his sixth ATP title by defeating the former Olympic champion from Switzerland 7-6, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.

Though Rosset tried hard to hang on to his title, he could never match Rusedski's serving as the Briton picked up his second win in two matches over the Swiss following his 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 success in the Croatian Indoor Championship semi-finals two weeks ago.

While the London-based left-hander, playing his fourth final in eight European indoor events since September, served 23 aces and just two double faults, the Swiss giant had only eight aces and a disastrous 12 doubles.

"I didn't think I was serving too well today but I served smart, '' Rusedski said. "I didn't hit them all with everything I had. I won a lot of service points with good placements.

"I thought the key moment of the match came when I had just broken Marc to lead 2-1 in the fourth set and then went 0-40 down on my serve. I hit three big aces to pull up to deuce and went on to hold serve and that really pleased me.''

With more than 200 points from this win, Rusedski is certain to move up the world rankings from his present position of ninth when the next list is issued today.

Tim Henman yesterday insisted he would not be ditching his coach, David Felgate, despite a woeful run of form. The British No 2 leapt to Felgate's defence after suffering four consecutive first-round defeats this year, starting at the Australian Open in Melbourne. "I said to David that I thought it was ideal that I'm the one going out playing like an idiot all these times and he gets all the blame," Henman said. "I think you have to look at the progress we have made over the last five years. I started my professional career with him and I'm in the top 20.''