Wimbledon 1997: MATCH OF THE WEEK

Frew McMillan looks back on the powerful progress of a British showman

Greg rusedski's straight sets win over the No 7 seed Mark Philippoussis was a resounding success for determination and an ability to make the most of experience and home advantage.

This was the clash of the titans: a Greek meeting Greek (let's overlook Rusedski being a Polish name), both coming into Wimbledon with a grasscourt title under their belt - Philippoussis at Queen's, Rusedski at Nottingham - Philippoussis riding the wave of Australian success this year, Rusedski profiting from his new-found momentum and respect as a more all-round player. Normally a meeting of two big servers on grass is hardly an exciting prospect, but the thought of a cannon on either side of the net was enthralling.

In the first set Rusedski looked at home. He knew Centre Court, while Philippoussis was playing his second match there. Rusedski is more of a showman, reacts favourably to the big stage, and looked in control of his nerves, while Philippoussis looked younger, off-balance and vulnerable.

Rusedski served superbly in the first set, dropping just two points on serve and in boxing parlance was clearly ahead on points as they went into the tiebreak. In the second set Philippoussis came more into the match, but the way he lost the second tiebreak confirmed his vulnerability playing a Briton on Centre Court. He led 6-2 in the tiebreak but misjudged a Rusedski backhand and then served two double faults, trying to make too much of his second serves - Rusedski took six points on the run to take the tiebreak 8-6. It was like earning your own reward and then, in the moment of celebrating it, giving it away.

At two sets down Philippoussis's only salvation lay either in a major rearguard action or in Rusedski breaking down. Had he still been level on serve when they stopped for bad light at 9pm on Monday he might have had a better chance, but they went with Rusedski 3-1 up.

Still this offered an opportunity for the best Australian heads to get together to knock some sense into Philippoussis, to get him to be less reckless and to play the important points better.

Much depended on Rusedski's first service game on Tuesday afternoon, but despite the pressure, the Briton played a dreamlike game, making the most of his swinging left-handed serve. Philippoussis kept hoping for serves to come on to his big forehand, but Rusedski continued his smart start, kept serving to the backhand, and won the match on an ace wide to the Philippoussis backhand.

One match - two if you count yesterday's success over Jonathan Stark - won't put Rusedski on an equal footing with Tim Henman in the public's affections, but this is a tremendous springboard to catapult him alongside in the ratings. Perhaps the true magnitude of his win can be measured by those who wanted to back Rusedski to win the title at his pre-Wimbledon price of 40-1, only to find him at 14-1 afterwards.

Interview by Chris Bowers

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...