Rusedski committed to Davis Cup

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The Independent Online

Greg Rusedski publicly re-committed himself to Britain's Davis Cup squad last night, six weeks after David Lloyd's sacking as the team captain and John Lloyd's dismissal as the coach.

In a statement on the eve of today's draw for the World Group promotion-relegation round, to be played in July, after Wimbledon, Rusedski said: "I would like to make the following comments to quash speculation on my Davis Cup future. I have not commented to date, because I have been concentrating on my tournament schedule and gaining match practice.

"I was extremely disappointed when David and John were sacked. In my opinion they had done an excellent job in their five years, restoring Britain's place in world tennis with only three defeats. Their commitment both on and off court was exemplary and they had an open and respectfulrelationship with myself and the other team members.

"My obvious disappointment has been interpreted by some as a reluctance to continue with the Davis Cup. I want to make it clear that there is no such reluctance on my part. I have always wanted to play Davis Cup and consider it an honour to be chosen to represent my country.

"I look forward to being part of the Davis Cup team and working with Roger Taylor and Jeremy Bates to build on the solid foundations already established."

Roger Taylor, Lloyd's successor as captain, said: "It's tremendous that Greg and Tim [Henman] will be part of our Davis Cup squad for the forthcoming tie. It now means we should be able to field our strongest possible team in July. Jeremy [Bates, the coach] and I look forward to working with the Great Britain Davis Cup squad for what will be a very important tie for the whole country."

Henman yesterday made a winning start to his clay-court campaign at the Estoril Open in Portugal. After the disappointment of his defeat to Andre Agassi in Miami earlier this month, Henman could not have hoped for an easier opponent than a Challenge Tour journeyman with no Champions Race points all season. The draw at the 11th Estoril Open paired Henman with Oscar Burrieza, a Spanish qualifier with littleexperience at the top level.

With a penchant for clay, but only an aptitude and no great pedigree, Burrieza should have been an easily removeable obstacle for the No 4 seed en route to the last 16.

It was not to be the case and after losing his opening service game Henman was made to work hard for a 6-3, 6-4 victory against a man who finished 1999 ranked 234 in the world. "I was very pleased with the way I played," he said. "Your first match on clay is always difficult and it's not easy to make the transition after the hard courts of Miami."

Henman's opponent in the last 16 will be the Argentinian Gaston Gaudio, a straight-sets winner over his compatriot Guillermo Canas yesterday.

In the women's event, running concurrently at the same venue, the French No 3 seed Natalie Dechy edged past Spain's Nuria Llagostera in three sets while Kristie Boogert, of the Netherlands, surprisingly lost to the Belgian Laurence Courtois, also in three sets.