Balance of health and wealth suits Rusedski's style

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The Independent Online

GREG RUSEDSKI left Munich for Switzerland yesterday, but not necessarily to deposit his $1.3m (£840,000) prize after winning theCompaq Grand Slam Cup. Rusedski is due to compete in this week's ATP Tour event in Basle, along with Tim Henman, the defending champion andBritish No 1.

GREG RUSEDSKI left Munich for Switzerland yesterday, but not necessarily to deposit his $1.3m (£840,000) prize after winning theCompaq Grand Slam Cup. Rusedski is due to compete in this week's ATP Tour event in Basle, along with Tim Henman, the defending champion andBritish No 1.

Given Rusedski's impressive record indoors, where his mighty serve generally prospers, Basle is likely to continue to feature on his itinerary. But heis preparing to dispense with several other tournaments next year in order to balance wealth with health.

"I've seen a few doctors, seen a lot of specialists," said the 26-year- old Rusedski, who has had to contend with various injuries during the past twoyears (he even woke up with a stiff neck before defeating Germany's Tommy Haas in Sunday's final, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7, 7-6). "They've told me I have tocut down on my tournaments, give myself longer rest periods, just be productive, don't over-play. The maximum events I'm playing next year is 23,maybe even less. I've been playing between 25 and 28. I've been over-playing a little bit the last few years. I had a few injuries which I didn't sort outproperly. I think my body took a beating from '98.

"I've got to use my training weeks better, schedule things a little more properly. I can't go out there gung-ho and play three to four hours a day, thenexpect to go in the gym and work-out again. My body just won't take that. I have to be a little more intelligent in those respects."

To that end, Rusedski intends to spend the rest of the year increasing his physical and match fitness with next year's Grand Slam championships inmind, particularly Wimbledon, where he is determined to succeed on the lawns, and the United States Open, where he was a finalist in 1997.

"I'm not even thinking about this year so much," Rusedski said. "I'm trying to play good tennis, but what's important for me is next season already,because all the Slams are done for the rest of the year."

Next month marks the anniversary of Rusedski's spectacular victory against Pete Sampras in the final of the Paris Indoors, one of the ATP Tour'sSuper 9 events. "It's nice to play well in Stuttgart and Paris, all those indoor events," he said, "but what's important to me is trying to win a GrandSlam. I'm really excited about the year 2000."

In his four matches at the Olympic Hall last week, Rusedski not only served well in defeating Gustavo Kuerten, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, AndreiMedvedev and Haas, but he also managed to rally with those predominantly back-court players, and was not lacking stamina.

"Every time I needed to raise my game, I raised my game," Rusedski said. "I don't think I played as well as I did on that day against Sampras, when Ibeat him in three straight sets, but some of the tennis I played when it counted was the best I've played in ages. The more healthy I am, I can stay withthese players from the back to work to approach and come to the net. That's a key for me: if I can get to the net, I have a chance. If they pass me ahundred times, they win. If they don't, I usually end up winning."

Rusedski's confidence has grown from his performances here and in the previous weekend's Davis Cup win against South Africa, to the extent thathe was able to joke about his capitulation against Todd Martin in the fourth round of the US Open after leading the American by two sets to love.

"Every time I get on the court, they announce it," Rusedski said in mock- horror. "For God's sakes, 7-5, 6-0, 5-3. Every time I'm warming up. It'sgetting on my nerves."

His bank manager will be reciting alternative figures which are unlikely to get on Rusedski's nerves, particularly in view of his impending marriage tohis fiancee, Lucy Connor.

"It's nice to get the paycheck, don't get me wrong," Rusedski said, "but most of the guys that were playing in Munich have reasonable bank accounts.I don't think we really worry about it. I don't think throughout the match I ever said, 'Gee, if I win this match, I'm going to get $1.3m', whatever it is.The money comes in nice, but the title is more important."

ATP RANKINGS: 1 A Agassi (US) 4470 points; 2 Y Kafelnikov (Rus) 3819; 3 P Sampras (US) 3544; 4 T Martin (US) 2969; 5 G Kuerten (Bra)2497; 6 T Henman (GB) 2300; 7 M Rios (Chile) 2276; 8 G Rusedski (GB) 2253; 9 R Krajicek (Neth) 2243; 10 T Haas (Ger) 2069). Others: 192 JDelgado (GB) 221; 281 A Parmar (GB) 134; 303 B Cowan (GB) 122; 321 M Lee (GB) 114.

Leading ATP prize-money winners: 1 A Agassi (US) $2,676,128 (£1,672,580); 2 G Rusedski (GB) $1,849,285; 3 Y Kafelnikov (Rus)$1,788,218; 4 G Kuerten (Bra) $1,489,309; 5 P Sampras (US) $1,401,256; 6 T Haas (Ger) $1,340,318; 7 P Rafter (Aus) $1,254,574; 8 R Krajicek(Neth) $1,050,397; 9 T Enqvist (Swe) $990,256; 10 M Rios (Chile) $917,447. Selected: 12 T Henman (GB) $892,944.

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