Thursday, August 5, 2004

Rusedski fighting through obstacles

On a comeback

By Colleen Kane
Enquirer staff writer

MASON - Greg Rusedski can't say how many tennis lives he has lived throughout his career, but this week at the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters, the 30-year-old from Great Britain is hoping to continue one more rebirth.

"I've had so many comebacks by now, I don't know what to call it. Let's just call it my enjoyment period," Rusedski said.

On Wednesday afternoon, Rusedski beat this year's French Open Champion, ninth seed Gaston Gaudio, 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4 to advance to the round of 16. It was his fourth win in five days after he was left off the tournament's wild-card list, forcing him to go through the qualifying round Saturday and Sunday.

"It was very satisfying to get through that match. It was the sort of match where you just grind out and find a way to win," Rusedski said. "I didn't want to lose today no matter what. ... It's good to know you can win against a guy who's won a Grand Slam."

It's really just good to be playing at all.

After a 2003 season filled with foot, knee and back injuries, Rusedski, then a 13-time singles title winner and a one-time U.S. Open finalist, finished the year ranked 118th, his worst ranking since 1994. He also tested positive for the banned substance nandrolone in July of that year. He was cleared by a tribunal this March, partially because low amounts of the substance were thought to be present in supplements given out by ATP officials to several players on the Tour. But he did not play in any tournaments from mid-January to the beginning of April.

He struggled when he first returned in April, but since June he has made the quarterfinals in three tournaments. He won a grass tournament in Newport, R.I., in mid-July and made the quarterfinals in Los Angeles a week later.

"I think I have something to prove, you know," Rusedski said Monday. "A lot of people have written me off. I think I've answered the critics pretty well the last three or four weeks."

Rusedski has made it this far in Cincinnati once before, when he advanced to the quarterfinals in 2001, beating Gaudio 7-6, 7-6 along the way. A winning streak this year could improve his ranking of 88th and help him get into future tournaments.

"I believe that next year I'd like a wild card. But that's the situation I'm in. Obviously it helps when you play two matches rather than four, but I am who I am," Rusedski said. "I'm just trying to enjoy my tennis and do the best I possibly can. ... I was hoping for a few wild cards this summer, which I thought the Tour was supposed to help me out with, but I'm just having to do it the old-fashioned way and do it myself. So far, things are good."

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