Rusedski on a mission to right the wrongs

Tennis' drugs scandal threatened to finish Greg Rusedski's career; now it is helping to prolong it. Rusedski previously considered retirement because injuries were so frequent; now a sense of injustice will ensure he hangs in as long as his body hangs together.

Tennis' drugs scandal threatened to finish Greg Rusedski's career; now it is helping to prolong it. Rusedski previously considered retirement because injuries were so frequent; now a sense of injustice will ensure he hangs in as long as his body hangs together.

Rusedski wants to show that although he competed while contaminated, he doesn't play dirty. He wants to remind us that he hasn't always been second best to Tim Henman. He doesn't want to be remembered as the player who launched the mouthful of vitriol against a Wimbledon umpire.

And most of all the Canadian-born Londoner doesn't want to be remembered as someone who, at the end of it all, still wasn't quite one of us.

"I've thought about the future, but I still want to do this tennis a bit longer," Rusedski says, but don't be deceived by the gentleness of the phrasing: he wants it with a passion. This is without doubt the most crucial Wimbledon of his career. He may not get another.

Those who think he cannot possibly attempt all this after what he has been through, forget what the Rusedskis have been through already. Father escaped Ukraine in the Soviet Union to come to Canada; son escaped a tennis backwater in Montreal and crossed the ocean in the other direction. Injustice, as he saw it, still followed him. Despite organising his life around the chance of glory at Wimbledon, living for more than a third of the year in England, and acquiring a British wife, many saw him as an opportunist.

Then there was the British coach, Tony Pickard, who abandoned him after a bust-up at Wimbledon. There was hysterical Henmania when he, Rusedski, was the one who had reached a Grand Slam final and won more tournaments. And there was his employer, the ATP, pursuing the drugs case against him when they might have let it drop.

Even now, after his innocence has been proven, some consider Rusedski fortunate not to have been banned. His defence was based on not knowing that the ATP were saying the supplements their trainers had given out were in fact unsafe. Could he have remained ignorant of that for a whole two months? The tribunal thought he could. But now to resurrect his career Rusedski needs wild cards, and lots of them, because he cannot re-climb the rankings unless he plays main tour tournaments. But can he trust the ATP to help him as much as he needs?

All this has been applying immense pressure to Rusedski on court. Acquitted by the Montreal tribunal on 10 March, he returned to competition with a misleadingly laid back win against a trainee fireman, Mike Scheidweiler, in the Davis Cup. A harsher reality soon clicked in.

Rusedski was beaten in straight sets by Bjorn Phau, a German ranked outside the top 150 - though he might have been able to convince himself this was Bermuda where things were still fairly relaxed. But it was followed by another straight sets loss in the sunshine, at San Remo to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, a Spaniard ranked little higher.

Then came a walloping from the Austrian, Jorgen Melzer, in St Polten, and a startling collapse to a young Spaniard, Fernando Verdasco, at the French Open, where Rusedski lost the last 12 games in a row.

Rusedski's first victory since his drugs ordeal did not come until Surbiton in June, when he beat Todd Reid, a lowly ranked Australian by 7-6, 6-3. "I did not think I would have to wait that long for a win," he said. Indeed, it was not until last Tuesday that Rusedski managed a main tour victory, his first for five months. To achieve it, he needed to save a match point, before beating Karol Kucera at Nottingham. "It looked grim at one stage but that's tennis for you," he said. "You've just got to hang in there. I was not happy with my game, but it was the sort of match I needed to win." He wasn't exaggerating. Had he lost that match point he would have plunged to around 200 in the world rankings. It is hard to believe there would have be any comeback from that.

Instead, his future hangs by a thread, or perhaps by a very good Wimbledon. Rusedski has sought inspiration from Goran Ivanisevic, who won Wimbledon in 2001 with a wild card, without a win in months, and with an arm falling off. At least Rusedski's arm is in good shape. "They said Goran would never manage to fulfil his potential and he managed it," said Rusedski. "So there's hope for me yet."

Possibly more than he realises. His legacy to British tennis is less doubtful than he may fear. Rusedski has done his share of promoting the game and to some people he has been pretty British ever since he won the BBC sports personality of the year award in 1997.

Others became convinced he was genuine after he left the National Indoor Arena close to tears after narrowly losing to Jim Courier in the Davis Cup in 1999; many more so after his victory over Nicolas Lapentti in 2001 helping to get Great Britain back into the World Group.

Then there was the Buxton water advert, last year's sequel to the foul-mouthed haranguing of Lars Graff.

As the umpire washed out Rusedski's mouth, the player joked: "Thank you, I needed that." How much Rusedski would give to be saying that for real in a couple of week's time.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform