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Rusedski’s picks for Wimbledon

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With Wimbledon starting on Monday, all eyes turned to the event in Eastbourne. It became very interesting because of Serena and Venus Williams participation. Serena has not played since winning Wimbledon last year because of a freak accident in Munich, were she stepped on broken glass while walking to her hotel room after a night out. She was walking bare foot and cut ligaments in her feet as well as cutting her feet up badly. It took her nearly a full year to recover.

On the other hand her sister Venus hasn't played much due to a hip injury this year. I believe this is only her third event of the year. Serena played really well considering her lay off and beat Pirokova in the first round in 3 sets after starting very poorly. Pirokova was a tough match because she has made the semi-finals at Wimbledon and plays well on grass. Due to the long layoff Serena was not seeded at Eastbourne, because she has lost all her ranking points from last year. The ranking works on a 52 week calendar and if you don't defend your points, your ranking disappears.

In the next round Serena lost to the top seed and world number 3 Vera Zvonerava. Serena actually served for the match in the 2nd set, but unfortunately did not come through. She is not that far off in her game considering she has been away for so long. Expect a good Wimbledon run from Serena and if the All England Club seeds her, she could be very dangerous. Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam that is allowed to seed players however they like because they say grass is a specialist surface. It is also based on your last 3 years’ performances at Wimbledon. I totally disagree with this and believe the seeds should be based on official rankings. Grass courts are not a specialist surface anymore because they have slowed down the courts by getting rid of the thistle in the grass, and changing it to rye grass a few years ago. They have also slowed down the balls through ball pressure and the cover on the ball. Grass plays more like a medium hard court and is slower than the French Open.

Venus looks very good at the moment even though she lost in the quarter-finals at Eastbourne. She will be a threat at Wimbledon. A lot of people’s favorite is Sharapova after her great run to the semi-finals at the French Open and also because she has won Wimbledon before. It is wide open on the women’s side again with other threats; Li Na, who became the first Chinese player to win a singles grand slam at the French Open two weeks ago, Petra Kvitova, the talented left handed Czech player, Victoria Azarenka from Belarus, and last year’s finalist Vera Zvonerava all contenders.

from Left field:

“Bring on Wimbledon!” – Rusedski

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The grass court season is finally underway. I love this time of year. We finally get to see some attacking tennis, but still not as much as during my era because the courts and balls are a lot slower.

The Queen's Club Championships started with one of its best fields in the tournaments history with 15 of the top 20 in the world entered. The only big withdrawal was that of Novak Djokovic, sighting a knee problem, but I am sure he will be fine for Wimbledon. Nadal, the six time French open champion, arrived Monday evening after all his sponsor commitments at Disneyland Paris. He is such a professional; he had a 1 hour 45min intense practice session and entered the doubles event as well to get match practice before his first round match in singles on Wednesday.

from Left field:

Tales from tennis’ fifth major

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Greg Rusedski writes exclusively for Reuters thanks to Thomson Reuters’ sponsorship of the Lawn Tennis Association.

The Sony Ericsson Open tournament is considered the fifth major by most of the tennis fraternity. It became a week with many story lines:

from Left field:

Getting the job done at the Davis Cup

There were no real surprises in the Davis Cup result this weekend. It was all about getting the job done and winning and that's what the boys did. Captain Leon Smith knew before the match that he would definitely win the 2 matches against the Tunisian number 2 and the doubles as well, which would give Team Great Britain the 3 rubbers for victory.

Tunisia got off to a perfect start with the Tunisian number 1, Malek Jaziri beating the British number 2 Jamie Baker in 4 sets. Both men were nervous as you would expect in an opening rubber. Both men also struggled with cramp which is unusual for an indoor match. Cramping can happen from being dehydrated, lack of fitness or nerves. I believe it had to be the latter. Then British number 1, James Ward demolished the Tunisian number 2 in 3 easy sets to level the tie at 1 rubber a piece.

from Left field:

Why all the fuss about being world number one?

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GOLF-RANKINGS/WESTWOODTo much fanfare, Lee Westwood has ended the 281-week reign of Tiger Woods as golf's world number one yet the fact the Briton has not won a major raises a couple of questions -- Do rankings reward consistency rather than great achievement? And how much do they really matter?

According to former world number one and six-times major winner Nick Faldo, the answer is not as much as the big tournaments.

from Left field:

Holding court with Greg Rusedski

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Wimbledon 2010 has been a great Championships, the weather for the two weeks has been absolutely perfect. Sun and more sun, not a drop of rain, the first time since 1995. They should have built that 40 million pound roof sooner! There were a lot of question marks going into this Wimbledon Championships for Andy Murray but fortunately for him he had a dream draw and took advantage in the first week to play himself into form.

For me though, the match of the tournament and the first week was John Isner versus Nicolas Mahut. I asked the BBC to schedule me on a short match so I could watch the all important England vs Slovenia qualifying match for the knockout stage of the Football World Cup. They said “No problem, we’ll put you on the Isner/Mahut match, they only have one set to finish”. So off I went with a rookie tennis commentator by the name off Ronald MacIntosh to finish the match he had started the day before. I joked that the outcome would be 27/25 in the final set to Isner, 8 hours 30 minutes later, over two days; I had been part of tennis history. We broke all records; longest match, longest set, most games ever played, most aces, longest match ever commentated on etc etc. It finished 70/68 in the 5th set for John Isner. This is a record which will never be broken. So much for watching the football, England did go on to win 1-0 though.

from Left field:

Can Murray end Britain’s 74-year wait?

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TENNIS-OPEN/Is there a more notorious and oft-bemoaned sporting drought than Britain ’s long – and very far from tantalising – wait for a men’s grand slam tennis champion?

In the week the New Orleans Saints finally threatened to shed their unofficial moniker of The Aints because of their lack of Super Bowl success, Andy Murray is doing his level best to get the biggest monkey in world tennis off his back.

from Left field:

Expect Federer v Murray to decide US Open again

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federermurrayThe final grand slam tournament of the year, which begins on Monday at Flushing Meadows, will welcome the world's two highest ranked players in intimidating form.

Two Masters tournaments, the level below a grand slam, have been played this month with Murray triumphing in Montreal and Federer in Cincinnati

from Left field:

Roddick gatecrashes Murray’s Wimbledon party

roddickThe build-up to Friday's second Wimbledon semi-final was all about Briton Andy Murray but the man of the hour was the fearless American Andy Roddick.

Sat on a packed and sunny Centre Court, the prospect of Murray's party being gate-crashed did not take long to dawn on a crowd who did not seem sure who they should be cheering for.

from Left field:

Murraymania keeps on building … but Andy’s unimpressed

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Andy Murray's brutal straight sets victory over Juan Carlos Ferrero took him through to the semi-finals at Wimbledon for the first time in his career on Wednesday but while the centre court fans and the Henman Hill mob did their Mexican waves one man was singularly unimpressed by the Murraymania.

Murray himself is doing his best to let the media frenzy pass him by. He may have received notes of encouragement from the Queen, Sean Connery and Cliff Richard, and he knows he will be all over the front and back pages of the newspapers again on Thursday, but to say the Scot is staying cool would be a massive understatement. Here's what he said after the 7-5 6-3 6-2 win over Ferrero:

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