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Thursday, 5 December, 2002, 18:39 GMT
Britain wait on Rusedski
Greg Rusedski
Rusedski has not played since losing at the US Open

Britain's Davis Cup coach Jeremy Bates says Greg Rusedski will get until the last minute to prove he is fit enough to face Australia.

Rusedski's fitness has been a cause for concern for some time and he remains a doubt for the Australian Open in January, a month before the Davis Cup clash.

But Bates has given an assurance that Rusedski will not be ruled out of Britain's match with Australia should he fail to play at Melbourne Park.

It's very difficult to tell how long a player is going to be out

Jeremy Bates

Bates told BBC Sport Online: "There's still several weeks before the team is selected and Greg is the cornerstone, along with Tim (Henman), of the Davis Cup team.

"We desperately need him to play and if he was not fit for Australia but he was fit for the Davis Cup, we would still have him in the team because he's a great asset."

With Tim Henman coming back from injury and Martin Lee ruled out following a knee operation, Britain could be without their top three players.

And Bates admitted it is difficult to make any predictions on a comeback date for Britain's number two following his ankle surgery last year.

"Whenever you've got a longer term injury, it's very difficult to tell how long a player is going to be out," Bates said.

"As well as the time it takes for the injury to heal physically, there's also an issue of the mental side - getting your confidence back.

"It's very difficult to predict how long that will be because each person is entirely different. The most important thing is Greg's welfare."

However, Rusedski has returned to training this week, although his spokeswoman Sharon Park is remaining cautious.

"Greg only returned to light gym work this week and until he starts hitting a ball we'll not know whether he'll play (against Australia)," she said.

Rusedski has not played since the US Open in September, and recently split from coach Sven Groeneveld for a second time.

He was originally scheduled to make his return in Doha on 30 December, but that now looks increasingly unlikely.

Great Britain's main weakness has always been an over-reliance on Henman and Rusedski.

Australia, meanwhile, have been boosted by the news that Mark Philippoussis could be fit to play alongside world number one Lleyton Hewitt.

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Davis Cup coach Jeremy Bates
"It's hard to know how long Greg will be out for"
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02 Dec 02 | Tennis
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