Tennis: Rusedski has trouble switching to the 'bubble'

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The Independent Online


reports from Essen

Life has not quite turned into a goldfish bowl for Greg Rusedski, although the British No 1 was less than happy playing in a "bubble" at one of the world's richest tournaments yesterday.

The Centre Court at the Eurocard Open here is an arena with a 6,700 capacity. The Grandstand Court is a handsome but almost transparent marquee next door with seats for 600 spectators. After sampling both, Rusedski wondered if the event had moved overnight.

It was difficult enough for Rusedski to be facing Marc Rosset, a 10th- seeded opponent with a similar serve-volley style - "I saw a mirror image of myself, except with a harder serve" - without having to chase "shadows" as the sunlight came and went. The silhouette of a tree intermittently decorated one end of the court.

Rusedski, who was defeated 6-4, 6-4 in the second-round match and will now turn his attention towards his debut at the National Championships at Telford next week, did not overlook the point that the Swiss Olympic champion was the better man on the day. "I just think it's wrong that at a two-million-dollar event conditions on the two courts are completely different," he said. "The light changes so much in the bubble that you're not sure whether you're playing indoors or out. Todd Martin was quite livid after losing his match." Martin was defeated by Sweden's Thomas Enqvist, 6-3, 6-4.

Watching Rusedski was Warren Jacques, the former British Davis Cup captain, who has taken over as his coach for the remainder of the year in the absence of the American, Scott Brooke, who is unable to travel.

Rosset had no complaints about the "bubble". He was simply pleased to have served and returned so well after recovering from a wrist injury.

Andre Agassi, playing on the Centre Court, was encouraged by his form in his first contest since damaging a chest muscle during the Davis Cup semi-final final between the United States and Sweden five weeks ago. The world No 1 defeated Jacco Eltingh, 6-2, 6-4.

Pete Sampras, who hopes to regain No 1 status before the end of the year, advanced to the third round, 6-3, 6-2, at the expense of Stefan Edberg, whose decline has taken him below the top 20. "I've had the best days of my career, there's no doubt about it," Edberg said after completing the 1001st match of it.

Michael Chang, who arrived from China after winning the Peking title, seemed disorientated during his opening match against Daniel Vacek, a Czech qualifier, who defeated the fifth seed, 6-2, 7-6. Goran Ivanisevic, the sixth seed, lost to Germany's Martin Sinner, 4-6, 7-6, 6-1.

The top 20 players, with the exception of the injured Michael Stich, began the tournament, which has achieved Super Nine status on the ATP Tour by switching from February to October.

So this is the second Eurocard Open of the year, offering a total of $4.09m (pounds 3.2m) in prize money ($2.25m in February, $1.84m this week). The event, usually held in Stuttgart, has made the one-off detour to Essen because that venue was booked for show jumping.