Rusedski out of Davis Cup tie - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Rusedski out of Davis Cup tie

25/12/2002 06:10:06 AM Comments (0)

Great Britain's hopes of defeating mighty Australia in the Davis Cup in February went from slim to virtually non-existent when Greg Rusedski ruled himself out through injury.

Rusedski is recovering from foot surgery and plans to play in the Qatar Open in Doha in the first week of January before deciding if he is fit enough to play in the Australian Open which starts on January 13.

But he has already informed captain Roger Taylor he will not play in the World Group first-round tie in Sydney from February 7-9, with the switch from hard courts to clay understood to be a cause for concern.

"I don't want to put the Davis Cup team in a difficult position by giving them last-minute notice if I had to withdraw," said Rusedski, who was perceived in some quarters to have done just that before September's clash with Thailand in Birmingham.

"I'm not sure how my foot will react in Doha, let alone the Australian Open. The surgeons warned me that it would take four to six months to recover from the operation.

"I'm going to Doha with a completely open mind, having just got back to training within the last two weeks."

Rusedski's withdrawal again places even more pressure on British number one Tim Henman to carry the nation's hopes, although Henman is also recovering from surgery.

Henman played through the pain barrier to almost single-handedly drag Britain through the tie with Thailand before undergoing surgery on his shoulder.

He is optimistic of being fit for the Australian Open and the Davis Cup, but will need to be on the top of his game against Australia's world number one Lleyton Hewitt.

Britain have not won a World Group tie in the competition since 1986 and defeat in Sydney would condemn them to yet another relegation play-off.

Rusedski's withdrawal comes just two days after Henman blasted the state of British tennis.

"I fear for British tennis. Aside from Greg and myself, the rankings are worse now than they have been for a long time," said the 28-year-old.

"A decade ago, we had seven players in the top 200. What have we got now?"

Australia is breaking with 103 years of Davis Cup tradition by staging a home tie on clay for the first time to counter the serve-volley game of Henman.

Australian captain John Fitzgerald said the decision was a unanimous one from his squad, headed by Hewitt, who had initially been less than enthusiastic about playing the tie on clay.

"I think Lleyton more than anything wanted to make sure it was a quality clay court," Fitzgerald said.

"His problem was not clay in itself. He wanted to make sure it was a good quality clay court and we are absolutely satisfied it will be."

"This is certainly our home court advantage and I just don't want people to forget it was a couple of years ago when Lleyton and Mark Philippoussis played singles in the final of the Davis Cup in Nice and it was on clay," he said, referring to their victorious tie against France in 1999.

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