With Andy Murray a fully established member of tennis’ dominant quartet of the last decade – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic – it’s amusing to think that two decades previously, the Great British public were lauding over the less than average pairing of Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski.
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The only thing the duo share with the greatest tennis player Great Britain has ever had, is their dull personalities – although you just know that Muzza is an absolute renegade, really, and is merely playing up to this persona he has been given.
Fred Perry’s name would’ve kept the Canadian-cum-Brit and Henman up at night, with the former Wimbledon champ’s three consecutive Wimbledon titles between 1934 to 1936 an intimidating shadow on any Brit that walked out on the famous court. However, had things gone differently for Rusedski in the US Open Final in 1997, the tennis player’s career could’ve taken a more successful route.
Rusedski came into the US Open unseeded, and felled wildcard entrant, and American player, David Wheaton in three straight – and easy – sets. Side point, here, but the American had a career that was hugely underwhelming, with just three career titles and only one Grand Slam semi-final. However, Wheaton still took home over £5million in prize money over a 13-year career. Madness.
In fact, Rusedski didn’t have a tough game until the quarter-final, where two of his three sets victory over the Netherlands’ Richard Krajicek were decided by a tie-break.
Even in the semis, although Rusedski dropped his first sets of the tournament – even trailing two sets to one – against Sweden’s Jonas Björkman, the Brit avoided all seeded players until the final, where he met Australia’s Pat Rafter.
Rafter himself had, had a relatively easy route to the final, too, with second seed, Michael Chang, posing the biggest threat to him in the semi-final – although a fourth round clash with unseeded Andre Agassi could’ve proved to be a tough ask.
After winning his first ever Grand Slam Final – 6–3, 6–2, 4–6, 7–5 – Pat Rafter went on to win three Grand Slam titles in his career and spent time as world No.1. Whereas Rusedski went on to only make one more Grand Slam quarter-final for the rest of his career.
Who knows what that afternoon in New York did to alter these two’s career paths…