Rusedski sharpens up by cutting down Rochus

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The Independent Online

Greg Rusedski's preparations for Wimbledon - and a possible reunion with Andy Roddick - gathered momentum as he cruised into the quarter-finals of the Samsung Open here yesterday. The British No 2, unseeded for The Championships after his nine-month injury lay-off, needed just 58 minutes to win 6-4, 6-1 against Olivier Rochus, of Belgium.

Rusedski, who has now won six of his nine matches since starting his comeback from a succession of foot, knee and neck problems, served 13 aces against the world No 67 to add to the 11 during his first-round defeat of Jarkko Nieminen.

If the statistics augur well for Rusedski, so do the style, sharpness and aggression. He volleyed with conviction and showed impressive movement at the net despite blustery conditions which made it difficult to hit smashes.

Size-wise, it was a mis-match. Rusedski stands 6ft 4in, Rochus 5ft 5in, which prompted the announcer to introduce them as "a Little and Large pairing". He also revealed that the 22-year-old Belgian's childhood ambition was "to be tall", yet he initially proved as quick and cunning an opponent as Rusedski had warned.

Despite having the better of the first set, Rusedski had eight break points before he finally broke. "You can't get frustrated in those situations," he said. "While you're waiting for things to happen, you have to realise that you're dominating play."

Opening the second set with an ace, he then broke Rochus' serve at the first attempt and was seldom troubled thereafter. "I felt I kept control from the first point to the last. I was very pleased because he can be a tricky opponent."

Rusdeski will meet Roddick, his Queen's Club conqueror and the player who shares his record 149mph serve, in the second round at Wimbledon provided both win in the first round. The American presents a daunting prospect, but Rusedski feels he is becoming sharper with each match. This one - testing but not taxing, brief but competitive - proved ideal.

Arvind Parmarsuccumbed to the reigning champion, Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman, 7-6, 6-2. Unforced errors cost the British No 3 dear. In its nine years, Bjorkman has won the event twice, Rusedski once; they may contest Saturday's final. In the quarters, Rusedski will play the former Wimbledon semi-finalist Vladimir Voltchkov, who beat another Brit, Alex Bogdanovic, 6-4, 6-2.

Wayne Arthurs, the Australian left-hander beaten by Bjorkman in last year's final, knocked out the No 1 seed, Morocco's Younes El Anynaoui, 6-4, 7-6. Victory for Arthurs means there are no seeds left in Rusedski's half of the draw, an anomaly due more to Nottingham's perverse seeding than to any string of upsets.

Alexander Popp, the German who Britain once tried to recruit for their Davis Cup squad because he has a British-born mother, won 7-6, 3-6, 6-3 against Andre Sa, the Brazilian who accounted for Jamie Delgado on Tuesday.