Ailing Rusedski bamboozled by Hewitt's game

Friday is not the best day for Greg Rusedski to play Lleyton Hewitt, who has beaten the British No 2 in straight sets in quarter-finals in consecutive weeks, in Basle and Stuttgart.

Friday is not the best day for Greg Rusedski to play Lleyton Hewitt, who has beaten the British No 2 in straight sets in quarter-finals in consecutive weeks, in Basle and Stuttgart.

Yesterday, however, there were moments during a 6-4,6-4 defeat when Rusedski played as if he did not know what day it was, partly because he was bamboozled by Hewitt's groundstrokes and partly because his back was stiff from his exertions on the indoor hard courts.

Although Rusedski figuratively took pains to play down the ailment - "It didn't affect me at all; Lleyton played extremely well" - his erratic serving gave a clear indication why he had to wear a back support and why he had consulted his German doctor in Munich after feeling the injury during the second set of his impressive win on Thursday against Marat Safin, the Russian top seed.

"If you don't serve the corners well and put enough first serves in, you're going to be in an awful lot of trouble with Lleyton," said Rusedski, whose first-serve percentage of 48 left him open to attack from the opening game, when he saved a break point after a double-fault.

Hewitt hit 61 per cent of his first serves without shaking the foundations, but Rusedski was unable to create a single break point - even when the Australian double-faulted three times in the sixth game of the opening set.

Rusedski was broken in the next game, netting a forehand after Hewitt returned a second serve, and two games later the Briton received a code violation for hitting a ball into the stand after double-faulting.

Hewitt was never threatened after breaking Rusedski in the opening game of the second set with a superb forehand return down the line. In fact, only four points were won against serve during the remainder of the match, two of them by Rusedski, who managed to hold to love in the seventh game without hitting a first serve.

The 19-year-old Australian, who eliminated Tim Henman, the British No 1, in the third round, today plays Russia's Yevgeny Kafelnikov for a place in tomorrow's final of the Masters Series event. Kafelnikov, the sixth seed, defeated the Dutchman Sjeng Schalken, a lucky loser from the qualifying, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.

Kafelnikov, the Olympic champion, did not endear himself to the ATP Tour by saying "tennis is dying" and pointing to Andre Agassi as the only "marquee player" to compare with the likes of Borg, McEnroe, Edberg and Becker. "I hope Agassi's going to stay a lot longer so we can really find the one or two guys who can really step it up and take over," Kafelnikov said.

Agassi, 30, has turned full circle in the tennis fashion department, from a bleach-maned rebel swaddled in hot lava and hot lime creations to a slap-head in hot pants.

His short shorts were as much a feature of the tournament as his short matches. "I think there's a certain classical look to them that I probably appreciate more now than I ever have," Agassi said. "I was specifically involved in going back to more fitted shorts. They're not ideal to practise in, because you can't put four or five balls in your pocket when you're out there doing some training."

Your correspondent suggested there was a certain irony that Agassi's streamlined, leggy look has been launched just when the ATP Tour is in the process of replacing the Stick Man on their logo with a figure in baggy shirt and shorts, "conveying the modern and dynamic nature of our sport in the 21st century".

"That timing is ironic, but accidental," Agassi said. "Did you like the way my shorts looked? Were they too short?"

They weren't, but the tournament promoters had hoped for a longer preview.

Agassi was eliminated in his second match by the Romanian Andrei Pavel, 6-3, 6-4. "At this point I have to be somewhat humble about my tennis game and accept where I am," he said.

Steffi Graf, Agassi's 31-year-old girlfriend, apparently has no option but to accept that her playing days are but a memory. The retired seven times Wimbledon champion has suffered so much wear and tear in her left knee that she says she is not even able to play "housewife's tennis".

Anna Kournikova needed nine match points yesterday before defeating Bulgaria's Magdalena Maleeva to reach the semi-finals of the Sparkassen Cup in Leipzig. The Russian No 3 seed, who is still seeking her first WTA Tour title, finally sealed a 6-4, 7-5 win when a return from the fifth-seeded Bulgarian sailed wide.

Kournikova now faces Kim Clijsters, of Belgium, who fought off a match point before beating the Australian No 8 seed, Jelena Dokic, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 in a thrilling battle of promising 17-year-olds.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
A rub on the tummy sprang Casey back to life
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little