Rusedski faces relegation

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The Independent Online

Greg Rusedski will be relegated to British No 3 after relinquishing his grip on the Nottingham Open title yesterday.

Rusedski produced his best tennis of the week here to take the opening set against Sweden's Thomas Johansson but eventually lost 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 to the former Australian Open champion.

It means he will be overtaken by Arvind Parmar when the new standings are announced on Monday, the first day of Wimbledon.

Rusedski said: "I don't really care. If I continue to play at this standard and to play well it doesn't really matter whether you are the British No 2, 3, 17 or 257 to be honest. It's about playing good tennis.

"I thought for a set and a half today I dominated the match completely, I had all the chances and break points. It just came down to one or two points here or there, one forehand I missed on break point and one he hit an ace on, if I take one of those I would have won 6-4, 6-4.

"But that's tennis for you. I think I played better than my first two matches so that's the positive and the other positive is I get a little bit more time to prepare for Wimbledon.

"I've seen the draw and the section looks quite reasonable. It's a good chance to do well and for the first time in a long while I'll have three or four days to prepare so it might be a blessing in disguise."

Rusedski conceded just six points on his serve in the opening set and broke Johansson with a brilliant backhand passing shot to raise hopes of another morale-boosting victory.

Rusedski never likes to do things the easy way however, having been taken to three sets in his previous two matches, and allowed Johansson to claim the second set 7-5 to level the match.

The left-hander held two break points in the sixth game but failed to convert either of them, missing the first with a particularly woeful forehand, and then lost his serve when a tie-break was looming. Rusedski managed to save one match point to stay on level terms at 5-5, and looked set to win the match in the tie-break when he led 5-4 with two serves to come.

But Johansson produced two typical superb returns to claim both points and made no mistake on his second match point to seal a deserved victory.