Rebuilt Rusedski on the rebound

GREG RUSEDSKI is possessed of a cheerfulness which can fairly be described as indestructible. Here he is, on the phone line from Bostonabout to play his first tournament after a five-week injury absence, but is he apprehensive or downcast? No chance.

GREG RUSEDSKI is possessed of a cheerfulness which can fairly be described as indestructible. Here he is, on the phone line from Bostonabout to play his first tournament after a five-week injury absence, but is he apprehensive or downcast? No chance.

Looking forward to it, raring to go. That sort of thing. But is the tendinitis in his right foot, which caused pain through the French Open andWimbledon, now cured? "I'm about to find out," he chortled. "I'll let you know at the end of the week."

The 25-year-old left-hander has been particularly unlucky in the timing of his physical stresses for the past three years. In 1997, the early part of arichly promising season was interrupted by a wrist injury, though Rusedski bounced back to get to the final of the US Open and become the firstBritish player to gain a ranking spot in the top 10. Last year another successful spell was brought to an untimely halt by damaged ankle ligamentsjust before Wimbledon, but he ended 1998 ranked ninth, the place he still holds.

The latest problem followed a toe infection suffered at the French Open which had to be treated by surgery. The tendinitis followed, at the junctionof toe and foot, the one he pushes off on as he launches that mighty, world-record serve. The problem and the pain persisted through Wimbledon,though he made little mention of it, and he matched his best-ever performance at the French Open by getting to the All England Club's fourthround, too. Then he went to a clay court event in Gstaad, lost in the first round to the local idol Marc Rosset and decided the time had come for theproblem to be addressed.

The treatment was done in London, so Rusedski was able to lessen the anxiety by being at home for an unexpectedly long spell. Being Greg, hefound silver linings aplenty. "It was nice to be able to go out with friends, to sleep in my own bed, to get a break from the circuit."

With most of the leading men opting to take this week off before the US Open or nursing injuries, like Patrick Rafter (shoulder) or Pete Sampras,whose 24-match unbeaten run came to an end on Friday because of a thigh strain, Rusedski finds himself seeded No 1 and drawn to play hisopener against a qualifier who will not be known until later today.

"I am hoping to get three or more matches under my belt this week," he said. "That would be a bonus because it is always a challenge going into aGrand Slam short of match practice, though it could prove a benefit."

It certainly could. Freshness, as long as it is harnessed to a rapid return to match toughness and top form, may be a valuable asset to carry into thecauldron of Flushing Meadow. Now is the time when many who have wheeled away year-long are a touch jaded or are carrying injury niggles.

"I am feeling positive about myself," he added. "I did a lot of work in the gym while I was away, it was a productive period. I am moving just aswell now as I did before the injury, if not better, so the lay-off can prove a positive thing. It is just a question of getting back the edge ofconcentration on the big points. I think it will come back quickly but the only way is to test it. Nothing can make up for match play."

Rusedski's big regret is that he has missed a large part of the North American hard court season, one of the better surfaces for his rapid-fire game.Absence has not affected his ranking, however, because this was the time he was out of action 12 months ago. But it was Greg's late-season surgeof good results which kept him inside the top 10 at the end of 1998 and he knows there is work to be done.

"I am going to have to play extremely well from now on. But right now I'm just looking at the US Open, trying to win a major title, the only thingI haven't done yet. That is what separates you from the rest, a Grand Slam title."

If only they awarded such things for cheerfulness and unquenchable optimism, Greg would be top of the heap.

Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before