Basle win could put Rusedski in top five
There were high fives all round for Greg Rusedski yesterday after he won his fifth career title at the Swiss Indoors in Basle, winning the best-of-five-set final in an hour and 50 minutes against Mark Philippoussis, and it should take him into the world's top five when the rankings are published today.
The 24-year-old left hander is now in pole position to become the first Briton to qualify for the eight man world championship in November in Hanover.
Indeed, the prospect of taking part in Hanover seemed a bigger deal to Rusedski than breaking into the top five. "No Briton has ever been to the tour championship, so that would be a great achievement."
Rusedski made the most of a slow start from the Australian and in the fourth game of the final Rusedski, who won his first three service games to love, established a lead he was never to drop.
Philippoussis had two chances to get back into the match. At 2-1 in the second set he was 15-40 up on the Rusedski serve, only for the Briton to thump down a big serve and then craft a clever point which he finished with an overhead. Those proved to be the Australian's only break points of the match, but he created a potential turning point in the second set tiebreak.
Despite preferring to slice away on his back hand, Rusedski has proved his ability over recent weeks to play an occasional telling hit through back hand just at the right moment, and he produced two in the tie break.
The first gave him what should have been a decisive mini-break at 43, and at 6-4 he had two set points. A sweetly struck back hand from Philippoussis saved the first, and a big serve levelled the break at 6-6. Another big serve could have swung things the Australian's way, but the first serve missed, and Rusedski played another scorching back hand off the second to set up his third set point. A big serve wide to the back hand was good enough to give him a two sets lead. While Philippoussis did not capitulate and the third set moved inexorably into another tie break, Rusedski always looked the stronger, and another hit through back hand gave him the vital mini-break on the third point. Minutes later he sealed the title on his first match point.
Tim Henman and Marc Rosset won the Basle doubles title, beating Karsten Braasch and Jim Grabb 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 in a two-and-a-half-hour final to give Britain a share in both Swiss Indoors finals.