Rusedski's serve sweeps aside Novak

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The Independent Online

Greg Rusedski was putting the first Grand Slam of the season to the back of his mind yesterday in an attempt to win his 11th career title. The British No 2 powered his way into the final of the Heineken Open here, using his big serve to recover from a set down to defeat Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic in a third-set tie-break.

The sixth-seeded Rusedski was due to face the Frenchman Jerome Golmard, who eased past Switzerland's Michel Kratochvil 6-2, 6-2 in the other semi-final. Victory in the final would make Rusedski the first British winner here since Roger Taylor in 1970, three years before Rusedski was born.

"I'm not even thinking about the Australian Open at the moment," said Rusedski, who will meet the Australian Scott Draper in the first round in Melbourne. If successful, he is likely to tackle another home favourite in Mark Philippoussis before taking on his Davis Cup colleague Tim Henman in the third round. "I want to win the title here," he said. "That's my priority, but it won't be easy."

Rusedski was impressive in his 6-7, 6-4, 7-6 victory. Along with his strong serve – he won 54 of 58 points on his first serve – Rusedski's volleys were sharp and his backhand slice approach penetrating.

After dropping serve three times against the Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic in the quarter-finals, Rusedski did not face a break point. "Yesterday I had a big mental victory against Ivanisevic and today there was strong motivation to beat Novak for the first time as well," said Rusedski, who had lost all his nine previous matches with Ivanisevic and both his previous meetings with Novak.

Golmard, ranked 49th in the world, used his strong left-handed serve to dominate against the No 45 Kratochvil.

"The wind was difficult today," Golmard said. "I think I handled it better than Michel."

Golmard is yet to beat Rusedski in four matches. "I will have to play my best against Rusedski, that's for sure."

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