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.

The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
Life and Style

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

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.

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album