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Desperate times as Rusedski plots return

Jonathan Overend | 11:00 UK time, Saturday, 24 January 2009

Greg Rusedski, who wants to come out of his two-year retirement, may swiftly revise his plans if he keeps getting knocked back.

He's been considering a comeback for a while, primarily with the motivation of playing Davis Cup for Great Britain again, and for the past week he's been badgering team captain John Lloyd.

With Britain so short of obvious contenders to join Andy Murray in the team, he was desperate to return for the Euro-Africa Zone Group One tie against Ukraine on 6 March.

Rusedski was said to be bitterly disappointed when Lloyd turned him down but it was the only decision the captain could make. Last month Rusedski lost to 39-year-old Cedric Pioline at the seniors' event in London.

The intriguing aspect to this story is the possibility for the future because Lloyd has left the Davis Cup door tantalisingly ajar.

"Obviously if Greg goes out and plays tournaments, which he seems to think he's going to, and manages to win matches then who knows," said Lloyd.

Certainly if Rusedski collects some wins by September, when hopefully Britain has a World Group play-off match, he would have to come into the frame.

But where will he get those wins?

Greg Rusedksi

It's understood he has contacted at least two tournament directors to ask for wild cards and in the summer he will fancy his chances of getting into the grass-court events because they are owned and run by his employers at the LTA.

The whole thing depends on how receptive those tournament directors are. Will they take the same view as John Lloyd and say wild cards aren't for 'has-beens'? Or will they sense a wonderful publicity opportunity?

If Rusedski gets knocked back several times, the idea is dead in the water. He will surely only commit to getting match fit if there is a definite reward at the end of it - in other words Davis Cup selection.

The decision to snub Rusedski comes at a time when Britain is more desperate than ever for Davis Cup players. Andy Murray is the only definite name on the team sheet for the Ukraine match. Either Jamie Murray or Ross Hutchins will take up the doubles berth.

A play-off will decide the other two team members with Josh Goodall, James Ward, Alex Slabinsky, Jamie Baker, Dan Evans and Colin Fleming getting the chance.

This is a controversial idea and Lloyd needs to be careful he doesn't abdicate his well-paid responsibility for picking the team.

But, in fairness, nobody knows how any of the six players will get on in best-of-five-set matches so we may as well put them together and see which one is left standing.

As for Rusedski, he clearly believes he could win live Davis Cup matches - and match-sharp and fully fit he may be right.

The same goes for Andy Murray's coach Miles Maclagan, who is in the best physical shape of his life and practices daily with the fourth-best player in the world. He too has joked with pals about possibly gunning for the team.

But all this just further highlights the desperate state of British men's tennis beneath Murray.

It's up to the fringe players to step up, perform in the play-off and prove they can do better than a full-time coach and an ice-dancer.


  • Comment number 1.

    The most frightening thing is that he would probably walk into the team if he started playing seriously again. The women's game is looking a bit healthier, with the likelihood that there will be three British women in the top 100 in a few weeks, but only one of them won even one match in Melbourne, although admittedly all lost against much higher ranked opponents. Even an old and half-power Rusedski would hold a place in the top 200, something that is a major challenge for any of the other men apart from Andy Murray.

    Mind you, it might embarrass a few of the youngesters a bit to see Rusedski get back into the team ahead of them. Shake them out of their complacency.

  • Comment number 2.

    Is there the hunger for the game over heare as there is in say France? If so then why not have more accessability for youngsters.

    I mean its great that the LTA have a great facility in Roehampton but is it going to produce the players of the future? or is the situation going to remain the same, with a few players of a reasonable standard, and a continuation of struggling Davis Cup teams.

  • Comment number 3.

    Well it was hardly like Rusedski cleaned up in his previous Davis Cup rubbers, but he does has a better chance than any of the current fringe players.

    These guys that come and win a couple matches at Wimbledon, why do we never hear anything of them afterwards? Are they just lucky? Or do we not have the system in place to enable these players - who evidetly have a flash of talent - to develop?

  • Comment number 4.

    If you care about the sport, then you only want players that are winners. Greg fits into this category and has nothing to prove.
    He simply wants a place in the Davis Cup team and help us back on the winning trail. He felt last year that he could have done a job, but was rejected. Why?

    If he feels passionate enough and can play well enough, let him play. Greg at 50% will be better than the rest of the team, apart from Andy. He also has a great relationship with Andy and that will work well.

    Let Greg play in the ATP tour, if he must get the ranking points to get selected, but don't ignore him because of age.

  • Comment number 5.

    Personally i'd love to see him play. I bet there were loads of people watching the last Davis cup tie saying that their grandad etc could do a better job than the Bogster.

    Well in terms of tennis, this is the closest you are going to get to your grandad playing. Surely even a half fit Greg could beat the current crop below the Murray's.

  • Comment number 6.

    why don't they just put him in the play-off with the others?

  • Comment number 7.

    The problem with young British players is they want a life outside of tennis. These French and Russian youngsters, their life IS tennis.

    So where as a Russian 14 year old boy will spend 90% of his time on the practice court or in the gym, a 14 year old British guy will spend 50% of his time in the gym or practice court and the rest with friends and family, and having a normal teenage life.

    So we'd need the occasional boy who is willing to spend so much time practicing and training to get good or one who is so unbelievably naturally talented that he only needs to spend 50% training...and they don't come along all too often.

  • Comment number 8.

    I don't think tennis is a priority sport for the English, just because lots of middle-class middle-aged women like it doesn't mean droves of England's finest young athletes are going to make a bee-line to the tennis courts.

  • Comment number 9.

    I think Greg coming back will only aid the Davis Cup team and our young British tennis players. For one he has vast experience on the big stage, so with his knowledge there will be a lot these kids can learn from Greg.
    But i do think that British Tennis being in such need for a better development set-up i think players of Gregs experience could look at the long time picture and help develop and expand on the future on British tennis and work with tennis academys. In my opinion if we want do produce more plyayers of Andy Murrays talent then we need to start invest in the long term as this will take a long time.

  • Comment number 10.

    Greg is too old to start competing again. End of issue.

    British tennis is in a very poor state at the moment in my opinion. The vast amounts of money that have been spent and the outputs (results) from this is embarrassing.
    The factors why Britain does not produce enough high quality tennis players is down to;

    Interest in the game (cultural)
    Access to tennis facilities for the masses
    Weather (small factor)

    Primarily it is about numbers and Britain needs to get more youngsters involved in the game. How do you create more interest? Perhaps if there was more tennis facilities available for kids to use both in and outside of school time. I’m talking basic facilities here like using existing sports halls and gyms and new facilities that would not require vast sums of money to construct. Preferably they would be indoor due to our long winters! The government needs to do more in this regard.
    Another big factor is that parents are more willing in the UK to push their kids to study and go on to university rather than to train and become a tennis player.

    Allocating vast sums of money to Roehampton and to quality coaches that work there will not improve the state of British tennis in the long term. In the next 10-20 years you may produce a player that can break into the top 100 but you wont start producing a chain of players like they do in France or Spain.

  • Comment number 11.

    'I don't think tennis is a priority sport for the English, just because lots of middle-class middle-aged women like it doesn't mean droves of England's finest young athletes are going to make a bee-line to the tennis courts.'

    If you showed a youngster how much money they could potentially earn in tennis then I suggest a lot of English finest young athletes could make a bee-line to the tennis courts. Henman made something like 12 million from his career - not bad for someone we like to laugh at.

  • Comment number 12.

    'Another big factor is that parents are more willing in the UK to push their kids to study and go on to university rather than to train and become a tennis player.'

    Not sure about that. We have plenty of parents pushing their kids to play rugby and football. We also have a very nice crop of young golfers coming through - no doubt helped out by their parents.

  • Comment number 13.

    "Another big factor is that parents are more willing in the UK to push their kids to study and go on to university rather than to train and become a tennis player.'

    Not sure about that. We have plenty of parents pushing their kids to play rugby and football. We also have a very nice crop of young golfers coming through - no doubt helped out by their parents."

    As well as pushing them to study these other sports are taking priority as well.
    But the point is that they are not pushing them to play tennis and if British tennis is to improve this is the key. Stick to the point.

  • Comment number 14.

    Quote by unounos: "Henman made something like 12 million from his career - not bad for someone we like to laugh at."

    You mean you like to laugh at. Most tennis fans and people who know about tennis (other than wimbledon) do not find Henman funny in this way.

  • Comment number 15.

    Fair play to him for giving it a go, but makes sense he has to start playing on the tour again.

    Problem is he is not exactly of Lance Armstrong proportions. Mind you, he has made a slam final, and that is more than any of the crop below Murray can dream of.

    I see his thinking though, Murray may be hovering as the top player on hard courts this year. And if he can squeeze into the Davis Cup team as an experienced deputy who can nick the odd rubber, then I for one would prefer that than a below par bloke from the challengers. He has the experience to make a difference, but does he still have the ability?

    And IF GB can come through the play-offs this year, Greg would be what age when he can finally make a difference in the World Group?

  • Comment number 16.

    Greg wants to do what neither Henman nor him ever did, play in a winning World group team.

    We last won a tie in 1986 and are now below Peru in the ranking list.

    In the end Tennis is not a big enough sport in the UK to produce a winning team, let us hope Andy Murray can inspire people to follow him.

  • Comment number 17.

    I'd choose Murray, Murray, Baker and Bogdanovic.. stick with the young.

  • Comment number 18.

    how will Murray feel when he hears he's playing with a grand-dad

  • Comment number 19.

    I think that Daniel Evans deserves a chance to prove himself at 18 first year in senior level won several futures and gained 500+ places be nice to see if he can continue to progress with better coaching and support at Davis cup level.

  • Comment number 20.

    Is there a more pointless job in the world than being captain of the Davis Cup team? We should do away with a captain and introduce a simple three-point strategy:

    1. The top two British players play in the singles matches.

    2. The players ranked third and fourth play the doubles match and play doubles together in as many tournaments as the possible in the hope of creating a partnership that is better than the sum of its parts. This was we could stumble across a British version of Woodforde and Woodbridge!

    3. Should we ever be leading a match 3-0 after the doubles, the players ranked fifth and sixth get to play the dead singles rubbers.

    The incentive for the guys ranked three and four is to challenge the top two players for the right to represent Britain in the singles.

    The incentive for all the players ranked fifth and below is to challenge the third and fourth ranked players for the right to represent Britain in the doubles.

    Simple. No arguments, no fuss...

  • Comment number 21.

    If Rusedski wants to play again he should be able too, John Lloyd needs to be careful because Murray could refuse to play Davis Cup because the other guys are simply not good enough and Rusedski would probarly beat all those guys anyway.
    'Has Been' he is not, look at Kimiko Date Krumm who has come back at 38, Greg is only 35. The mens game apart from Murray is a joke here and the other players especially Bogdanovich are useless.

  • Comment number 22.

    Rusedski's return? He never had a return, or a backhand for that matter...

  • Comment number 23.

    It is time the LTA be disbanned due to the fact they have not produced any top quality players for year (except Henman).

    Rudesdki and Murray came through different systems.

    LTA does not work it is just hopeless.

  • Comment number 24.

    The more successful Andy Marray becomes,the more kids are going to want to emulate him.Hopefully this should also help to eradicate the attitude that tennis is an elitist sport,open only to the wealthy.Tennis courts should be made more accessible to kids that show an interest,and there should be more academies set up.How about an X factor for future tennis stars?

  • Comment number 25.

    #20 - I find it galling when someone signs off a piece of drivel with the word "Simple!" which is intended by the writer to mean "don't worry lads, I'm here now, don't bother flexing your tiny minds, here's the incontravertible and flawless truth you've been craving!"

    Yours isn't the worst example so not sure why I've reacted so badly... but here comes the rant!

    Yours is certainly a simplistic way of picking a team... it's just a shame it's absolutely ridiculous!

    It assumes no difference between playing doubles and singles. Players who excel at doubles aren't necessarily good enough singles players to get a 3rd/4th ranking. Jamie Murray is the nearest we have here but the Woodies were never quite world beating singles players but presumably wouldn't have had chance to play Davis cup together for Australia based on their singles rankings in your system (statos of the world unite to prove me wrong ;-)

    It also assumes players rankings don't change. e.g. "3rd and 4th ranked GB players should play as much doubles together as they can" doesn't work well if the 3rd and 4th ranked players are different every week and the next Davis cup match is 3 months away. How do you know who needs to be playing together!?!?

    It also assumes you're more likely to get a result in the doubles with your 3rd and 4th best players rather than your 1st and 2nd best. Surely the objective of the Davis cup is to win matches, not to give your 6th best player some hope?

    When you have only 1 world class player (e.g. Andy Murray) the pressure is on him to win both his singles AND also contribute to a doubles win in order to win the tie.



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