Tennis: Rusedski set Grand Slam target

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The Independent Online
Tony Pickard will be playing close attention to the Australian Open which begins in Melbourne today. The 63-year-old English coach took over as mentor to Greg Rusedski after the Briton reached the US Open final in September.

Pickard was in retirement after finishing with his previous charge, Petr Korda, when he got a call from Rusedski. The No 5 seed in Melbourne, will open against the American David Witt while the British No 2, Tim Henman, faces another qualifier Jerome Golmard.

Rusedski surprised everyone by breaking with Brian Teacher, who had helped him make a tremendous rise up the rankings, and Pickard was also stunned to be approached by the biggest server in the game.

"I was finished. I was done... It came right out of the blue," said Pickard, a former British Davis Cup player who made his name as the architect of Stefan Edberg's success in the 1980s.

Of Rusedski, he said: "His ground strokes have improved tremendously. We have done a few things and his game has improved in all directions."

"I've never seen anyone so ambitious as Greg. He's willing to work his head off and is so keen to improve." Pickard plans to spend between four and five months with the 24-year-old Rusedski this year "to get him where I think he should be."

And that includes winning one of the Grand Slams.

Britain's No 1 woman player, Sam Smith, was knocked out in the final round of qualifying for the Australian Open.