Safin makes Rusedski's thoughts turn to retirement

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The Independent Online

Greg Rusedski fell at the first hurdle here yesterday in what might have been his final Wimbledon when he lost his opening match in straight sets to Marat Safin. The 32-year-old British No 1 bowed out to the twice Grand Slam winner 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, and though he had yet to make a definitive decision on retirement, he agreed it has been a recurrent thought for some time.

"I haven't made any decision on that yet," he said. "I'd be silly to make a rash decision this very moment. I think it's hard for any tennis player or any athlete to make that decision. [But] I think the older you get, you have those thought processes going in your mind, especially once you pass the age of 30."

Rusedski, who will turn 33 in September, looked lost before the final game of the match, staring into space. He said afterwards: "I was just trying to get something to work, trying to figure it out, but nothing was happening for me today, unfortunately.

"It's just one of those days where you go on the court, and unfortunately this happens to you in tennis. It's obviously disappointing it happened here for me. I have no excuses."

There was also an early exit for Britain's Alex Bogdanovic, for whom there was no shame in a straight-sets defeat, 6-4, 7-6, 6-4, to the No 2 seed, Rafael Nadal. There were four other home losers: Jamie Baker lost to Andreas Seppi, and all three Britons in action in the women's singles bowed out. Naomi Cavaday lost 6-4, 7-5 to Ai Sugiyama, of Japan. Katie O'Brien won the first set against Italy's Tathiana Garbin but went out in three. Anne Keothavong lost to Croatia's Karolina Sprem, 6-0, 6-2.

Two of the nation's lesser lights did register good wins to allow them to take their place alongside Tim Henman and Andy Murray in the second round of the men's singles.

Richard Bloomfield sealed the best win of his career yesterday when the British No 7 eased past a player ranked 172 places higher than him to book a place in the second round. The 23-year-old from Norwich, ranked No 260, won in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 against Argentina's Carlos Berlocq, a clay courter from Buenos Aires.

Berlocq's pedigree on grass was hardly inspiring ­ he had failed even to finish the only other match he had ever played on the surface ­ but Bloomfield was assured from start to finish. His next opponent will be Germany's Tommy Haas, the world No 24. "It's third-time lucky," said Bloomfield. "Although I don't show it, inside I'm very happy."

Jamie Delgado, the British No 16, edged through a marathon encounter with Michael Berrer, a German qualifier, to reach the second round for the first time since 2001. The 29-year-old Delgado qualified by winning the wild card play-off two weeks ago. He seemed likely to ease to victory yesterday when he took the first two sets but then allowed his opponent to take the next two before rounding off a 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 3-6, 6-3 win.

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