Rusedski finds self-belief in fine fightback

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The Independent Online

Greg Rusedski, the defending champion, breathed a massive sigh of relief after staging a brilliant fightback to beat Karol Kucera in the Nottingham Open yesterday. Rusedski saved match point in the second set on his way to a 2-6, 7-6, 6-3 victory, only his third win in nine matches since he was cleared of any wrongdoing over his positive drugs test last year.

Greg Rusedski, the defending champion, breathed a massive sigh of relief after staging a brilliant fightback to beat Karol Kucera in the Nottingham Open yesterday. Rusedski saved match point in the second set on his way to a 2-6, 7-6, 6-3 victory, only his third win in nine matches since he was cleared of any wrongdoing over his positive drugs test last year.

The British No 2, whose world ranking would have dropped to almost 200 if he lost, looked certain to make another first-round exit just six days before Wimbledon. But he saved three break points in the eighth game of the second set and then, after putting an easy smash way out of court off the frame of his racket, saved a match point to level the scores at 5-5.

That gave Rusedski the momentum going into the tie-break, which he took 7-4. Rusedski then raced into a 3-0 lead in the decider, was pegged back to 3-3 and had to save two more break points to edge in front at 4-3. The 30-year-old then broke Kucera in the next game and served out. He faces Vince Spadea in the next round.

"I was really pleased to get the win because I didn't feel I was playing very well, but I stuck in there with my serve and found a way to win," said Rusedski, who has received a wild card into Wimbledon. "Once I got to the tie-break I started to play well, I didn't make any unforced errors and things managed to come together so it's really satisfying to get that win. It's been a while.

"This is the process you have to put yourself through. It's not always an enjoyable process but it really helps with the confidence, this is the sort of match I needed to win."

Jonathan Marray continued his fine grass court form with a 7-6, 2-6, 6-3 victory over Wayne Arthurs. Marray had not won a match on the ATP tour before two wins at the Stella Artois championship last week but the experience of playing on Centre Court at Queen's proved crucial.

"It helped a lot," said Marray. "Queen's was my first big match on a stadium court, last year I played here in the first round on the same court and was probably a bit overwhelmed but I felt fine out there today."

At the Ordina Open in Amsterdam, the defending champion Sjeng Schalken suffered a irst round defeat, losing 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 to Mario Ancic, of Croatia. The No 2 seed, Rainer Schüttler of Germany, was also knocked out by Dutchman Raemon Sluiter, 3-6, 7-6, 6-3.

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