indianwells98rios_rusedski

Points won by each set: | 35-25, 48-45, 42-35, 37-25 |
Points won directly behind the serve:
34 % Rios – 48 of 138
37 % Rusedski – 58 of 154

I think it’d been initiating of a very interesting period in men’s tennis which lasted until Hewitt became the best player in the world at the end of 2001. For more than three years a few non-great players advanced to the top or were close to do that. March ’98 it was the beginning of the process – Sampras losing his sharpness, Chang injured, Becker & Muster getting old, Agassi making his comeback after a terrible ’97 season, and all of a sudden a bunch of players (Korda, Rafter, Rusedski, Rios) faced a possibility to reach the No. 1, the players who could only delusionally dream about it twelve months earlier. The match-up Rusedski [6] vs Rios [7] looked intriguing – the best server at the time against the best receiver, each of them facing a chance to advance to his highest position – No. 3. Their first & lone meeting, rather ugly, however, featured the second longest tie-break as far as the finals are concerned (only Borg & McEnroe co-created a longer TB at Wimbledon ’80)… great quality tie-break by the way, they both delivered their best tennis # Rios was comfortably holding throughout, so losing a set despite five set points wasted, including a double SP (the Brit saved them all with winners), didn’t upset him at all. He won four straight points from *3:4 in the 3rd set tie-break and Rusedski began fading in the 4th set; admittedly his impressive serve allowed him to lead 4:3, but the second break for Rios or a tie-break won by the Chilean seemed inevitable. Rios broke in the 9th game after Rusedski’s double fault & converted his first match point with a backhand passing-shot after 2 hours 46 minutes. Rusedski had his only break points in the first game of the final. “I think I went from worse to better” Rios said of his performance “After I broke him in his first game of the match, I think that was big, and I think I played pretty smart, holding my serve”.

Rios’ route to his 7th title:
2 Hendrik Dreekmann 6-4, 7-6(4)
3 Nicolas Kiefer 6-4, 6-3
Q Petr Korda 6-4, 6-2
S Jan-Michael Gambill 7-6(3), 6-3
W Greg Rusedski 6-3, 6-7(15), 7-6(4), 6-4

# How the set points were saved in the 2nd set tie-break:
*6:4 – BH volley & FH volley
*6:7 – FH passing-shot
7:8* – double fault
*8:9 – FH volley error (net-cord helped Rios)
10:9* – BH volley
*10:11 – FH passing-shot
12:11* – ace
*12:13 – FH passing-shot
14:13* – overhead
*14:15 – Rusedski netted Rios’ 2nd serve
15:16 – Rusedski converted his seventh set point with a FH volley

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