Croatia's Mario Ancic gets tennis world record
Ancic beats Rusedski
Croatia's Mario Ancic beat Britain's Greg Rusedski 11-9 in the Superset Tennis sudden-death shoot-out final to walk away with the £250,000 winner-takes-all prize at Wembley Arena on Sunday night.
Ancic, aged 20 and ranked 20 in the world, and 31-year-old Rusedski traded serves for 20 games before Rusedski finally capitulated on the third set point. Victory gave Ancic a world record reward for three sets of tennis.
The battle of the big servers went with serve for the first 19 games before Rusedski, after saving two match points, was beaten by a forehand down the line. Ancic, the Wimbledon conqueror of Tim Henman, said: "It's been a great year in England for me and right now I'm speechless.
"It's my first tournament win, it isn't an ATP event but it was worth fighting for. I was just concentrating on serving."Rusedski reflected: "I wish I'd lost in the first round because I wouldn't be feeling so bad now. But Mario served too well and good luck to him." After beating American Robby Ginepri in the first round, Ancic was involved in a long semi-final when 45-year-old John McEnroe pushed him all the way.
The three-times Wimbledon champion had already handed Britain's latest prospect Andrew Murray a 24-minute masterclass, crushing the recent US Open boys' singles champion 6-1. Then, revelling in the razzmatazz of sudden-death tennis, he stretched Ancic to 9-7 before finally coming to a double fault.
Both Ancic and Murray admitted they had never met anyone like McEnroe, with the young Croatian conceding: "He played unbelievable tennis. That's the best guy at serve and volley. For one set he is so tough. "He picked up volleys and half-volleys and showed he is a true legend."
McEnroe revealed that he is ready to try and help Murray reach the top. "He's the type of player I hope I will be involved with because I think he has the potential to be a good player," said the American. "The whole idea is that I will be helping the LTA initiative by working with some kids and he's the obvious choice.
"At first the idea was I would be a figurehead but I want to get down in the trenches and hit with the kids," said McEnroe, who paid 17-year-old Murray respect by never easing up. "You risk losing if you do something like that. I smothered him before he had a chance to get into it," added the veteran.
Superset Tennis was making its European debut and is set to return to London in the future. Wimbledon it isn't, despite the All England championships' referee Alan Mills being in charge.
Rock music blaring, players marching on court in a fashion more suited to a boxing world title fight, court-side coaches giving advice and the latest hi-tech equipment giving players the chance to challenge controversial line calls were just a few of the innovations.
The use of Hawkeye to decide any line disputes was unanimously welcomed by the players, with McEnroe saying: "They are ahead of their time with that as it could be introduced on the tour in the next couple of years."