British number two Greg Rusedski admitted he thought he had blown his chance of finally defeating Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic after beating the Croatian to earn a Heineken Cup semi-final in Auckland.
Rusedski, forced to play twice in one day because of yesterday's rain interruption, had lost his previous nine games against Ivanisevic and feared he was destined to be denied again after giving up a one–set lead when he lost the second to love.
But Rusedski – after earlier coming from behind to defeat Michael Tabara in a rain–delayed match – fought back to score his second win of the day, 6–2 0–6 6–3, in a match which produced a surprising nine service breaks.
"After I won the first set it became difficult mentally," he said. "After dropping the second set I knew I had to get back to business right away.
"After nine losses you start to get a complex that you're not going to beat this guy."
Ivanisevic blamed a shoulder injury for his unusually tame serves – and confessed he must improve or face Australian Open embarrassment.
"Even when I put a first serve in it wasn't going anywhere," he said.
"He's not the best returner in the game and he was returning my serve pretty easy. If I play like this (at the Australian Open) I'll be going home pretty quick, but hopefully I can do better.
"I'll probably have some massage and pain killers to loosen up to get the speed back."
In the last four Rusedski will meet the Czech Republic's Jiri Novak, who defeated Spain's Felix Mantilla 6–1 6–1.
Earlier in the day Rusedski had produced a superb fightback to reach the quarter–finals. He had trailed Tabara 5–7 0–1 yesterday when rain had stopped play and forced the match into a second day.
Rusedski was soon 4–5 down in the second set, but held serve to stay in the match, immediately broke his Czech opponent and went on to win the set and level the match.
Rusedski broke Tabara in the ninth game of the third set and held serve to win 5–7 7–5 6–4.
Meanwhile, Rusedski and fellow Briton Tim Henman have moved up the seedings for the Australian Open following the withdrawal of fifth seed Juan Carlos Ferrero due to injury.
Spaniard Ferrero has been forced to finally concede defeat in his battle to overcome a knee injury in time for the first major tournament of the season.
It means British number one Henman, in confident mood after his 6–4 6–7 (8/6) 6–3 victory against Mark Philippoussis in the final of the Australian Hardcourt Championships in Adelaide, is the sixth seed.
Rusedski will be 28th seed at the Australian Open.
Ferrero's withdrawal opens the door for fellow Spaniard Tommy Robredo to move into the seedings in 32nd spot, while Switzerland's Ivo Heuberger will be given a place in the main draw without having to qualify.
The Australian Open draw will take place in the Melbourne Park Function Centre tomorrow.Reuse content