Originally posted at Ubitennis.com, full post is below:
Pat Rafter handed Greg Rusedski his 2nd straight sets loss at the Statoil Masters Tennis on Thursday as he won, 6-3, 6-2. This loss means Rusedski will most likely not make it out of the round robin portion of the tournament. Still, Greg was upbeat about his participation in the tournament, content to find satisfaction in his work with British juniors’ development and in his role as Tennis Ambassador with the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA). Rafter cheerfully concurred with Andrew Castle assessment that he had a great time playing Rusedski. He ruefully admitted that he feels good after playing several tournaments before this event. He feels he’s seeing and hitting the ball really well which was rare enough in his 20s and even more so in his 40s.
The crowd must have felt they were in a time warp as they watched Rafter charge the net after every serve. Though he occasionally suffered for his ventures into the net when Rusedski passed him, the style of play was a welcome sight causing Castle to wonder if anyone could succeed in reviving serve and volley against Djokovic, Rafa Nadal and Andy Murray. Rafter’s response was quick and pointed: “Not on this type of court. This is too slow. You need to really play on a fast court against those guys. They are such tremendous athletes and they hit the ball so hard.” In contrast to those who see the dominance of just four men as a sign of tennis’ golden age, Rafter offered an alternative view. He argued that “when we played Wimbledon, there were five guys who could win it and those same five guys could not win the French Open. That was just a fact.” He acknowledged that while the top four guys are sensation players, “their conditions are the same. Everywhere you go: Wimbledon, French Open, US Open [and] Australian Open. It’s all slow. These guys have the slow courts all the time and you don’t see anyone come along with a big serve.”
If the gasps and applause of the audience are any indication, Rafter’s rallying cry may not be a lonely one. “I would like to see a variation in the court speed. Give the big guys, the big service [a chance], or someone different to come along and take these guys on.”
The evening match was an entertaining affair that included an opportunity for John McEnroe to have his close-up. After an engaging match between him and Wayne Ferreira, John McEnroe participated as himself in a segment of the British show, A League of Their Own. McEnroe played a best of 5 points match versus three of the show’s stars: Andrew Flintoff, Jamie Redknapp and Jack Whitehall. Each fell in quick succession to McEnroe. The episode is expected to air sometime next year.
Next up, on Friday evening, John McEnroe will face Sergi Bruguera and on Saturday night, Patrick Rafter will face Goran Ivanisevic.
In the Legends, Mat Wilander defeated Henri Leconte 6-3, 6-4 and will play Jeremy Bates on Friday afternoon.