Rusedski's resurgence earns place in last eight

Greg Rusedski believes he is starting to feel more like his old self after continuing his recent resurgence last night.

The British number two, who won the Hall of Fame Championship at Rhode Island last week, reached the quarter-finals of the Mercedes-Benz Cup here by beating Karol Beck.

Rusedski won 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 to book a clash with Germany's Nicolas Kiefer in the last eight.

"I am on a roll. This has been a fantastic start to the summer for me," Rusedski said.

Rusedski voluntarily sat out the first four months of the 2004 season after being charged with using performance-enhancing drugs. He was cleared in March, and the 30-year-old Briton has begun to find his form at the first hardcourt summer event leading up to next month's US Open.

"It was very difficult to get back - mentally, physically and emotionally - but I have had a period where I have managed to improve.

"Playing matches has been the key - getting confidence in tight situations, playing points and playing better serves. I am pleased it has come back so quick, so that is a plus for me.

"It has been a long time (2002) since I won seven straight matches, so that gives me a lot of confidence and makes me feel good about myself." Rusedski rifled 16 aces on his way to a 107-minute victory that took his win-loss record for the year to the 13-8. He had slipped 4-2 behind in the deciding set and was a point way from going 5-2 down but fought back to reduce the deficit and take the match on the tie-break.

"Once I got into the tie-breaker, I was pretty confident because I have been playing them pretty well," Rusedski said. "It is just nice to hang in there and get the win."

Rusedski is now anticipating a tough encounter with Kiefer when he returns to action. "It is going to be another tough match, but it is another positive step forward for me," he said. "He is a good returner of serve, he is a counter-puncher, and I am going to be coming forward, so it should be a good match."

Kiefer advanced to his third consecutive quarter-final appearance but knows he has to raise the level of his game if he wants to beat Rusedski.

"Everybody knows Greg is playing great serve-and-volley. He just won at Newport," the German Olympian said. "I take it how it comes and hope I can play much, much better and beat this guy."

The third seed, Mardy Fish, also reached the quarter-finals, but he was made to struggle against Belgium's Gilles Elseneer, winning 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

Fish had raced into a 5-1 lead in the first set and looked comfortable before the 97th-ranked Elseneer broke the American's serve in the sixth game of the second set.

Fish jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third set to clinch the victory and will meet Cyril Saulnier in the quarter-finals after the Frenchman beat the Czech player Jan Hernych 6-3, 6-7, 6-3.

In Stanford, the top seed Venus Williams made an impressive return to the Bank of the West Classic by wiping out Lindsay Lee-Waters 6-1, 6-1 in the second round on Wednesday. The two-time Stanford champion was relentless from inside the baseline and served tremendously well, challenging her American compatriot to hang in with her in brutal rallies.

Often, all Lee-Waters could do was watch balls whiz past her into the corners.

"Venus is great, but I never relaxed and played my game," Lee-Waters said.

"I let her dictate to me. I served poorly and played too many balls down the middle, but she's such a good player it's hard to play your game. It was a little overwhelming."