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

Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning: The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier leaguePlus all the build-up to Man City vs Chelsea and Everton vs Palace
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Polly Borgen at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2012
peopleThe Emmy award-winner starred in Cape Fear, the Sopranos and Desperate House Wives
people'I hated him during those times'
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam