Tennis: Rusedski's request made redundant by injury

Greg Rusedski's ATP Tour World Championship campaign ended prematurely yesterday when a hamstring injury prevented the British No 1 from playing his concluding round-robin match against Spain's Carlos Moya. As John Roberts in Hannover, explains, one naggi
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The prognosis on Greg Rusedski's hamstring rendered the scheduling of his round-robin match against Carlos Moya hypothetical, so the question became one of principle - would Boris Becker or Pete Sampras, in similar circumstances, have been granted the 24 hours' respite Rusedski was denied?

Neither Rusedski nor Tony Pickard, his coach, saw any sense in belabouring the point. "It's a strange situation, let's put it that way," Pickard said, "but, having been around a fairly long time, I've experienced other strange situations.''

Rusedski requested the switch in his schedule after losing to Pete Sampras on Wednesday, but the ATP Tour refused to delay his match with Moya until today, when Sampras is due to play Australia's Pat Rafter, the United States Open champion, on prime time for German television. Rafter defeated Rusedski in his opening match. "It's all to do with keeping the interest alive for everybody," an ATP Tour spokesman said.

A visit to hospital yesterday confirmed that Rusedski would not be able to continue. Austria's Thomas Muster, the alternate, stepped in to play Moya.

"I asked for a Friday start, but unfortunately that didn't happen," Rusedski said. "But in retrospect, after listening to the doctor here at the tournament and the doctor at the hospital today, it didn't really make much of a difference in my case.''

Pickard concurred. "It's unfortunate. It's sad, but what can you do? We have had two specialists' opinions, and they have both been quite clear it wouldn't have made any difference if we'd have been given three days off.''

The $80,000 (pounds 53,000) Rusedski received for qualifying for Hannover took his prize money for the year to $1,515,473. He will drop one place to No 6 in the year-end world rankings, overtaken by Yevgeny Kafelnikov, of Russia, who was guaranteed a place in the semi-finals here after Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman defeated Sergi Bruguera, of Spain, 6-3, 6-1, in the White Group.

Bruguera then announced his withdrawal because of sore ribs.The ATP Tour, seeking a second alternate, attempted to contact Marcelo Rios (No 10) in Chile and put Richard Krajicek, of the Netherlands, and Alex Corretja, of Spain, on stand-by.

Kafelnikov began the day with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Michael Chang, the second set lasting only 25 minutes. The winner of today's match between Chang and Bjorkman will join Kafelnikov in tomorrow's semi-finals.