Tennis: Rusedski steps up the pace

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The Independent Online
GREG RUSEDKSI advanced to the third round of the United States Open yesterday, with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 win against Germany's David Prinosil.

The British No 2 was more commanding in this victory, in one hour and 36 minutes, than he had been in his opening match against the Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero. Equally important, Rusedski was not troubled by his right foot, which had kept him out action for six weeks before he played in Boston - where he reached the final - last week.

Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario of Spain beat the world No 18 Patty Schnyder of Switzerland 6-2, 6-2. The 10th seed will next play Martina Hingis of Switzerland in the fourth round, if the world No 1 beats Sandra Kloesel of Germany.

There have been one or two spats during the US Open, Hingis and the Williams family have not been the only ones dishing the dirt. Two of the men's coaches became embroiled in a heated argument as their players duelled for the right to play Andre Agassi in the third round.

Justin Gimelstob from New Jersey, was in the process of retrieving a two-sets-to-one deficit against Daniel Vacek, of the Czech Republic, when Gimelstob's coach, Eliot Teltscher, complained that Vacek was receiving hand signals from his coach, Vladimir Zednik. An official was summoned to the court to settle the dispute.

"Vacek kept looking over [to his coach]," Gimelstob said. "But I was trying to focus on my own stuff. I'm glad my coach stuck up for me."

Teltscher declined to comment about the incident. "It was a hell of a match, hell of an effort," he said.

Gimelstob, having prevailed 6-2, 3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, collapsed exhausted, and required intravenous treatment. "The last game, my left leg was cramping considerably," he said. "My tank is completely empty." It will need to be replenished before Gimelstob, ranked No 87, faces Agassi, the second seed, today.

Carlos Moya became the latest contender to retire hurt. Moya, the Spanish No 8 seed, gave up because of a back injury after losing the first two sets of his second round match against the Frenchman Nicolas Escude.

"I had this pain for 10 days," Moya said, "but I had two days off, so I thought it was going to go. Today, when I had to react, or make a quick movement, it was really bad. It didn't make any sense to keep playing. I'm going to have some tests when I get back to Barcelona."

Remembering Michael Chang as a resiliant little battler in a world of giants, there is poignancy in the 27-year-old American's declining form.

Once capable of beating the best, or at least fighting them to the finish - as he did for five hours and 26 minutes against Stefan Edberg in the 1992 semi-finals here - Chang is now a vulnerable No 62 in the world.

His second round defeat by Arnaud Clement, of France, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4, was not as embarrassing as it seems, but there was an unmistakable sense that the Chang of two years ago would not only have taken his two break points, but would have created many more.

He lost to an opponent who, as John McEnroe remarked, was like a younger version of Chang himself. Clement at 5ft 8in, scurried his was to 13 break points, and converted four of them. "Size-wise and game-wise, I think there are some similarities," Chang agreed.

Even so, Chang managed to out-ace Clement, 10 to six, and said he always felt he was in the match. "The determination and the fight is still there," he said. "I just haven't been able to win as many matches as I did three or four years ago."

Lindsay Davenport, the Wimbledon champion, who is seeded No 2 in defence of her US Open title, eased into the third round with a 6-0, 6-2 win against Ruxandra Dragomir, of Romania. The Californian allowed Dragomir one game less than her first round opponent, Corina Morariu, with whom she won the Wimbledon doubles title.

Davenport was done and dusted after only 45 minutes. "I don't think at a Grand Slam you're trying to get too much out of matches," she said. "You're trying to win as fast as you can and get off the court. It's two weeks. I don't think you want really tough matches necessarily."

Asked if she felt she was being overlooked as the reigning champion amid the hype surrounding Martina Hingis and the Williams sisters, Davenport said: "I don't know what everyone's focusing on. I don't really listen to what other people say about who's going to win."

With two Grand Slam titles to her name, Davenport is more at ease with herself. "In the past, I'd get more nervous, because I hadn't won a Grand Slam," she said. "Coming back this year, it's a much different feeling. It's more like, `God, I have to win this again. I really want this'."

Results, Digest, page 25