Ivanisevic had won the first set on a tie-break too, before Rusedski took the second 6-4, setting up a nail-biting finish in the final set. Rusedski could count himself doubly unfortunate in the third set tie-breaker for, having fought back from 0-4 down, he was serving at 5-5 and broke a string as he went for a big serve and had to change his racket. He got his second service in but Ivanisevic hit a winning forehand passing shot to reach match point.
Ivanisevic, ranked No 2 in the world, threw away this chance with a double fault but then made it 7-6 with a service winner. Then came Rusedski's second misfortune for, in what proved the final point of the match, he was foot-faulted on his first serve and hit his second into the net to double fault.
Rusedski had gained the only service break in the entire match when he broke Ivanisevic in the seventh game of the second set. The remaining 33 games were generally won comfortably by the server for Ivanisevic had four break points, none of which he could win, and Rusedski only one when he actually broke serve.
Aces were plentiful with Ivanisevic serving 22 and Rusedski 19 but the British left-hander also showed superb composure for the highly partisan crowd gave him no support at all. Ivanisevic's winners were greeted with near hysteria, Rusedski's with deafening silence.
Yet the Briton should look back upon this week with satisfaction, because he will make a considerable advance up the world rankings from his present position of 56 when the next ATP list is announced today.
Steffi Graf was forced to pull out of her eagerly awaited clash with Martina Hingis in the final of the Toray Pan Pacific Open yesterday because of a knee injury.
Organisers said Graf, the world No 1 and the tournament's top seed, withdrew due to a severely aggravated patella tendon of the left knee.
Hingis, 16, fresh from her triumph in the Australian Open a week earlier, picked up the champion's trophy. It was Hingis's seventh career singles title and her third successive championship victory this year.
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