Greg Rusedski blew hot and cold in the sunshine here yesterday before eventually overcoming Germany's Rainer Schuettler in three sets, 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, to progress to the quarter-finals of the Samsung Open. Pronouncing himself pleased with the result afterwards, the British No 2 said he was now "ready for Wimbledon" and that any further matches this week he plays compatriot Martin Lee in the last eight today will only tighten up his game.
While that may be true, his win over Schuettler reiterated how much he relies on his serve and how vulnerable he can be when it lets him down. He produced a blistering first-set service display, racking up nine aces, four of them in a single game. He conceded just four points on his serve and blitzed the tie-break 7-0. But then the wheels came off. He was broken twice in the second set, giving away 10 points on his serve, several through unforced errors.
The deciding set could have gone either way and epitomised the Briton's strengths and weaknesses. With the score at 3-2 in his favour, Rusedski broke his opponent by winning a rally that required nerve, speed and two fine shots a long drive down the line and then a backhand volley to clinch it. But then, within sight of victory and serving at 5-3, Rusedski contrived to throw away his advantage, double-faulting and overhitting along the way. The set went to another tie-break, which was settled easily, 7-3.
"I think Schuettler played well," Rusedski said afterwards. "We had tough conditions out there with a swirling wind. In the first set I did nothing wrong. In the second he started producing some shots I couldn't do much about. The only thing I was disappointed with was when I was serving for the match in the third. I thought that it was it, settled. I don't know what happened there."
Rusedski now meets Lee, the British No 3, for the first time, the latter having overcome another compatriot, Arvind Parmar, in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3. "It's been a good week for us [British players]," Lee said. "In the past we haven't been as good, but personally, I've been playing really well, especially in the last two matches. Tomorrow is going to be tough, I've never played Greg but I've been waiting for four years to play either him or Tim [Henman] to see how much I've got to do. I'm looking forward to it."
Lee, a keen Millwall FC supporter, was asked how he felt about facing Rusedski, a self-confessed Arsenal fanatic. "I don't particularly like Arsenal," he said. This later prompted Rusedski to reply, with a smile: "I'm not getting into that. I don't want Millwall fans knocking on my door."
One Briton whose tournament ended yesterday was Jamie Delgado, who lost in three sets, 6-7, 6-3, 6-1, to the No 7 seed, Harel Levy of Israel. America's latest prodigy, the teenager Andy Roddick, who saw off Byron Black, of Zimbabwe, 6-4, 7-6, was among the others to reach the last eight.Reuse content