Thoroughbred Show Gives Rusedski the Final Say on Taunts about His Talents

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Byline: MIKE DICKSON

EVERYONE used to have much the same opinion of Greg Rusedski's tennis and the polite appraisal would go along the lines of 'Nice serve, shame about the rest of it'.

Some were grudging even in saying that, and the British No 1 could not help thinking of them after producing a run at the US Open in which he looked far more the thoroughbred than one-trick pony.

As Rusedski reclined in his Concorde seat yesterday following his 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 defeat by Australian Patrick Rafter in Sunday's final, he could consider a year which has seen him jump from 84 in the rankings to No 11.

Also, he could contemplate his near-perfect execution of a two-fingered gesture to the likes of Wayne Ferreira, the South African whose disparaging remarks about his limitations before Wimbledon he found so wounding.

'Ferreira has never made it to a Grand Slam final and all I can say is that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. No matter what people have said about my game no-one can take what I've done away. I've shown what I'm capable of,' reflected the 24-year-old lefthander.

'The more people say things against you, the more it spurs you on. You've got to try to turn the negatives into a positive and that makes it a more satisfying achievement.

'It's nice when you hear someone like Mac (John McEnroe), who's been saying that I don't do this well and Tim does that so well, and find that he's now giving me due credit.' The comparisons are always going be inescapable with Henman, whose defeat last week of Thomas Muster saw him go back to No 20 yesterday, giving Britain two players in that top bracket for the first time since Mark Cox and Roger Taylor were there in 1974.

Unfortunately for Rusedski, there has hitherto been precious little similarity in their commercial appeal for corporate sponsorships and spin-offs, which has seen virtually the whole Footsie 100 attaching itself to Henman. It led his coach Brian Teacher to joke: 'Not only are their endorsements not in the same ballpark, they're not in the same solar system.'

That is likely to change now, but already over the last fortnight Rusedski, the equal highest-ever ranked British player - Roger Taylor enjoyed that spot eons ago - has earned [pounds sterling]225,000 in prize-money and got himself into Munich's Grand Slam Cup later this month, which offers a minimum [pounds sterling]60,000 to first-round losers. …