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Last Updated: Friday, 26 August 2005, 13:36 GMT 14:36 UK
Rusedski ready to overtake Henman
By Simon Austin

Greg Rusedski
Rusedski faces James Blake in his US Open opener
Greg Rusedski believes a good run at the US Open can help him take over from Tim Henman as Britain's number one.

Rusedski is currently ranked 30th in the world, 18 places behind Henman.

But he has far fewer ranking points to defend after losing in the first round at Flushing Meadows last year, while Henman reached the semi-finals.

Rusedski told BBC Sport: "There's a great opportunity for me to become British number one and it could happen very soon."

Rusedski, 31, last topped the British rankings in August 1998.

Henman succeeded him after that and has not relinquished top spot since.

However, Rusedski's form over the last few months has been significantly better than that of his compatriot.

He won the Hall of Fame Championships in Newport Rhode Island immediately after Wimbledon, before going on to reach the last four in Indianapolis and Montreal.

RUSEDSKI POST-WIMBLEDON
Newport: Winner
Indianapolis: Semi-finals
Washington: Third round
Montreal: Semi-finals
Cincinnati: Second round

That semi-final in Montreal - which he lost to Andre Agassi - was Rusedski's first in a Masters Series event for six years.

In sharp contrast, Henman has won only one match since Wimbledon and struggled with both his form and fitness.

Rusedski's excellent form has been rewarded with a seeding of 28 at Flushing Meadows.

Yet this did not safeguard him from a tough draw. He faces a first-round encounter with America's James Blake before a potential third-round clash with French Open champion Rafael Nadal.

Rusedski is not fazed though.

"It's a tough first match, but I'm extremely confident about winning it," he said.

"A lot will depend on how aggressive I am and how I'm serving. We've only played once before (at Indian Wells in 2000) and I won comfortably, so I've got to be confident."

Rusedski puts his recent success down to weeks of arduous training at the end of last season.

"In November and December last year I worked very, very hard," he said.

"I've concentrated on being more aggressive and going out harder.

"Early on in the year I expected to do a lot better, but kept coming up against guys in the top 10.

"At Wimbledon I was in good enough form to go pretty far in the tournament, but Joachim Johansson (who beat him in four sets in the second round) played better than me.

It was nice to win in Newport again - if all the tournaments were there I'd be world number one
Greg Rusedski

"Now the hard work's paid off. I've had a great summer and got into the top 30.

"It was nice to win the title in Rhode Island for the third time in four attempts. If all the tournaments were played there, I think I'd be the world number one!"

Now Rusedski is looking to continue his good form at Flushing Meadows, the scene of the greatest moment of his career, the final of the 1997 US Open.

Rusedski reached a career-high fourth in the world rankings after losing that final to Pat Rafter, and he was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year at the end of the season.

His demise has been predicted many times since then, because of injuries, lapses in form and, of course, allegations of doping in 2003 that he was subsequently cleared of.

So how sweet another good run at Flushing Meadows and a return to the top of the British rankings would be for the 31-year-old.




SEE ALSO
Rusedski pulls out of New Haven
23 Aug 05 |  Tennis


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