Rusedski bows out but finds succour in 'sympathetic' crowd

British No 2 hopes media storm over failed drugs test will blow over as Auckland Open's top seed withdraws

Greg Rusedski heads for Melbourne today to prepare for the Australian Open, hoping that attention will now be focused on his tennis rather than on the banned steroid found in his system.

Few expect his wish to be granted. As a high-profile player who has failed a drugs test, Rusedski - who was knocked out of the Sydney warm-up tournament yesterday by Australia's Mark Philippoussis - will face relentless scrutiny at the season's opening Grand Slam.

For a man whose career hangs in the balance, the British No 2 has displayed remarkable sang-froid at the adidas International this week. He has played respectable tennis and calmly answered the barrage of questions about the nandrolone detected in a sample he gave in Indianapolis last July.

Yesterday he put up a spirited fight against the higher-ranked Australian before going down 6-3, 1-6, 6-4. "I think I played well," he said afterwards. "This is my fourth match of the year and, with everything that's going on at the moment, I'm extremely pleased with my performance. If I can improve on today, I think I'll do well in Melbourne and be quite dangerous to a lot of players."

Rusedski, who faces an anti-doping tribunal in Montreal next month, released a statement about his positive drugs test last week after being repeatedly questioned about it by journalists. The Canadian-born Briton denies any wrongdoing, claiming that the testing procedures of the ATP, the governing body of men's tennis, are flawed.

Yesterday he said that he believed the media frenzy provoked by his statement had died down. "Everything has been said that needs to be said, so hopefully in Melbourne I'll only be asked about tennis, which will be nice for me," he said. "I'm 30 years old, and this is a period in my career when I want to enjoy it and do my best."

Philippoussis, the world No 11 and a Wimbledon finalist last year, was wearing a tie-dyed shirt with a swirly pattern which he hoped - he had joked the previous day - would "give my opponents headaches". But it was his superior tennis and match sharpness which took out Rusedski in the second round.

The Australian broke serve once to take the first set, but then faltered in the second, allowing Rusedski to even the score with a near flawless performance. But, sorely short of match practice after spending most of last season out of action because of injuries, the left-hander failed to seize the opportunity offered by two break points at 4-4 in the third set. Philippoussis held serve and then broke Rusedski's to clinch the match.

No adverse comments were made about the Briton by the partisan crowd. "They behaved immaculately," he said. "They gave me support and cheered me from the first ball to the last, even though I was playing an Australian. I can't ask for more. I think people feel sympathetic to my situation."

In other matches, the former world No 1 Lleyton Hewitt beat Karol Kucera, of Slovakia, 6-4, 6-1 to join Philippoussis in the quarter-finals, while another Australian, Todd Reid, upset Spain's Felix Mantilla 6-4, 6-1. Thailand's Paradorn Srichaphan defeated Jonas Bjorkman, of Sweden, 7-5, 1-6, 6-1.

In the women's draw, Justine Henin-Hardenne, the world No 1, opened her season with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Conchita Martinez. The Belgian trailed 0-2 before recovering to take the first set in 39 minutes.

She said afterwards: "I'm very happy to win my first match. The first match of the season is never easy."

Amélie Mauresmo, of France, and America's Lindsay Davenport also advanced to the quarter-finals.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Voices
voicesBryony Beynon: This is something every woman can relate to
Arts and Entertainment
film

News
Mock the tweet: Ukip leader Nigel Farage and comedian Frankie Boyle
peopleIt was a polite exchange of words, as you can imagine
Arts and Entertainment
Steven, Ella Jade and Sarah in the boardroom
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch is reported to be in final negotiations to play Doctor Strange for Marvel although the casting has not yet been confirmed
film
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Alloysious Massaquoi, 'G' Hastings and Kayus Bankole of Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
musicThe surprise winners of the Mercury Prize – and a very brief acceptance speech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
Life and Style
fashion

World Beard and Moustache Championships held last week

News
video
Arts and Entertainment
Copycat culture: the Chateau Zhang Laffitte in China, top, and the building which inspired it, in Paris, bottom
architectureReplicas of Western landmarks are springing up in unlikely places
Sport
Rolando Aarons watches as his effort finds the corner of the Manchester City goal to give Newcastle the lead
footballManchester City 0 Newcastle 2: Holders crash out on home turf
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
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.

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain