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Sunday, 11 June, 2000, 20:57 GMT 21:57 UK
Profile: Greg Rusedski
Greg Rusedski
British number two Greg Rusedski
When Great Britain played South Africa in last year's Davis Cup, the visitors to the NEC in Birmingham had a specific tactic against Greg Rusedski that said a great deal about the big-serving left-hander's game.

Journeyman pro Neville Godwin knew Rusedski would serve very big. The Canadian-born star, who switched to play for Great Britain in 1995, holds the world record for the fastest-ever serve, 149mph at Indian Wells in 1998.

The South African's main tactic was to try to attack Rusedski's relatively weak backhand. Relative is an important word, but the shot does not come naturally to Rusedski and he often slices it, rather than use a more aggressive drive.

Big left-handed serve
But it is easier said than done and so strong was Rusedski's serve and volley game that he hardly needed to hit a backhand at all. He won in four sets.

It says everything about 26-year-old Rusedski, the typical modern player. In the past, youngsters worked on developing an all-round game.

One shot wonders

Today a player like Rusedski or Pat Rafter will have one great shot and one tactic to make the most of it. It might not be pretty but when things are going well it is devastatingly effective. If conditions are in his favour he can be almost unbeatable.

Rusedski proved that when he beat Pete Sampras in straight sets in the Paris Open final in 1998 - the biggest of the eight tournaments he has won in his career so far.

And Wimbeldon's grass courts could have been designed for a big-serving left-hander, where the ball skids through low and fast.

Fast grass suits Rusedski

He is clearly among a small group of players who can hope to win Wimbledon, so it is disappointing Rusedski's record there is not better.

His best showing was a quarter-final in 1997. The following year he went out in the first round after playing with an ankle injury, a decision that led to a split with coach Tony Pickard. Last year Rusedski lost in the fourth round to Mark Philippoussis.

Indoor promise

This year he missed the Australian Open and Britain's Davis Cup defeat by the Czech Republic after an operation on an ankle injury.

But he enjoyed extended runs on the fast courts at the indoor tournaments in Rotterdam and London's Docklands in February to show his form was returning.

Form on clay, his least favourite surface, is not all that relevant for Rusedski and he duly lost his first match of the year on it at Monte Carlo.

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See also:

10 Jun 00 | The Brits
British men's hopefuls
10 Jun 00 | The Brits
Brilliant and bruised Brits
 | Wimbledon2000
11 Jun 00 | Sportstalk
Has Wimbledon lost its lustre?
11 Jun 00 | The Brits
Profile: Tim Henman
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