Greg Rusedski, gathering momentum with every shot at the Stella Artois Championships here, now faces a serving duel with the American third seed, Andy Roddick, for a place in the quarter-finals.
In their only previous meeting, in the third round at Wimbledon last year, Rusedski won in straight sets in a match John McEnroe described as the finest display of serve-and-volleying on grass he had seen for some time.
Rusedski yesterday hit 15 aces en route to a 6-4, 6-4 win against Hicham Arazi, of Morocco, in the second round. "I'm improving every match," Rusedski said. "I'm moving better, serving better, and today I was taking the key points better."
Lleyton Hewitt's prospects of winning the title for a fourth consecutive year seemed in the balance when he was broken serving for the match at 5-4 in the final set of his opening match against the Dutchman Raemon Sluiter. Hewitt saved a set point before securing a first set tie-break, 8-6, and also prevailed in a third set shoot-out, 7-3, on his fourth match point, to win, 7-6, 3-6, 7-6.
"I was trying to get my footing out there and did not feel as comfortable as I did at Wimbledon last year," Hewitt said. "He gave me a real run for my money."
Todd Reid, a 19-year-old Australianwho won the Wimbledon junior title last year, produced the upset of the day, defeating Jan-Michael Gambill, the American tenth seed, 6-1, 7-5.
Alex Bogdanovic may discover today if he has been awarded a wild card for Wimbledon for the second year in a row in spite of losing in the Lawn Tennis Association's play-offs last weekend.
The 19-year-old Bogdanovic raised his world ranking to No 361 by advancing to the final of the challenger tournament in Surbiton last week, and had little energy left for the wild card play-off.
Given a wild card for the Stella, Bogdanovic defeated his British compatriot Arvind Parmar in the opening round, and held six match points yesterday against Frenchman Anthony Dupuis, ranked No 81, before losing, 3-6, 7-6, 7-6, after two hours and 34 minutes.
Bogdanovic's first three match points came with Dupuis serving at 5-6, 0-40, in the third set. Dupuis survived, forcing a tie-break. Having won the second set tie-break, 8-6, the Frenchman fancied his chances in the second shoot-out. But Bogdanovic saved four match points from 2-6 and created three more opportunities to win, at 7-6, 8-7, and 9-8, only to hit a smash over the baseline on Dupuis's fifth match point at 9-10.
"I'm a bit disappointed not to win, but he served well and hit some big forehands on key points," Bogdanovic said.
Sjeng Schalken, the Dutch sixth seed, was given a walk-over when the American Todd Martin withdrew because of a chest muscle injury.