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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 June, 2003, 21:08 GMT 22:08 UK
Rusedski makes silent exit
By Caroline Cheese
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

Fans on Rusedski Ridge
The ears should have been closed for Rusedski's language

Greg Rusedski crashed out of Wimbledon with an extraordinary string of expletives - but his exit was met with a certain amount of apathy around the grounds of the All England Club.

While the crowd of nearly 14,000 inside Centre Court cheered and groaned in all the appropriate places, the packed hill in front of the big screen fell into a deathly hush.

After a humdrum first few games, Rusedski reached 15-30 on the Roddick serve at 6-5 - but the most the crowd could muster was a polite round of applause.

And when the Briton lost his cool in dramatic fashion at 5-2 in the third set after a questionable decision by the umpire, a few mutterings and a couple of boos were audible.

But they were soon back to supping their beers and watching on with a general air of disinterest.

Perhaps it was the nature of the match, which featured precious few rallies and plenty of unreturnable serves.

Or was it the feeling that Rusedski was never really the favourite to win against a player with the number five seeding beside his name and the Queen's title under his belt?

Just maybe it was the fact the crowd had cottoned on to the growing feeling in tennis that Rusedski is yesterday's man.

"Rusedski used to have the fastest serve in the world, didn't he?" commented a member of the crowd in the hill, forgetting that the 29-year-old still jointly holds the record for the quickest delivery.

A catalogue of injuries have cost Rusedski dearly and his lack of match practice was painfully evident against Roddick, who was able to deliver the big shots when it counted most.

But in reality, the fans' muted response to Rusedski has much more to do with the country of his birth.

When he first arrived at Wimbledon in 1995 under his adopted flag of Great Britain, he was wholeheartedly welcomed.

Tim Henman
When Henman is in action at Wimbledon, it is hard to ignore...When Rusedski plays, it is a totally different story.

Henmania had not yet reached full fever pitch and Rusedski, wearing a Union Jack bandana, immediately endeared himself to his new fanbase by reaching the fourth round.

He followed that with a quarter-final appearance in 1997, the same year he appeared in the US Open final and won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

But he has not equalled or surpassed that achievement at the All England Club, while compatriot and rival Tim Henman has made an almost annual pilgrimage to the semi-finals.

When Henman is in action at Wimbledon, it is hard to ignore.

The noise from 'Henman Hill' can be heard virtually throughout the grounds, and when he is in trouble, as he regularly seems to be, the volume only tends to increase.

When Rusedski plays these days, it is a different story.

He is backed to the hilt when he is dominating a match - but at the very moments he might need the backing of a partisan crowd, the only sound is generally of deafening silence.

And so Rusedski continues to exist in a strange no-man's land.

When he wins he is as British as they come, when he loses (and swears at the umpire in the process), he is very much Canadian.





Links to more Wimbledon 2003 stories


 

WATCH AND LISTEN
Britain's Greg Rusedski
"I wish I handled it better"


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