Rusedski beats Ivanisevic to snap a seven-year losing stretch

Thursday, January 10th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) _ Greg Rusedski snapped a seven-year, nine-match losing streak against Goran Ivanisevic when he beat the Wimbledon champion 6-2, 0-6, 6-3 in three sets Thursday to advance to the semifinals of the Heineken Open.

``If I play like this at the Australian Open I'll be going home pretty quick,'' said Ivanisevic, who struggled with a shoulder injury.

It was the second match in a day for Rusedski, who completed a 5-7, 7-5, 6-4 win over Czech Michael Tabara in a rain-delayed second round contest Thursday morning. He was down a set but up a break in the second set when the match resumed.

``After I won the first set it became difficult mentally,'' Rusedski said, who last beat Ivanisevic in 1994. ``After dropping the second set to love I knew I had to get back into business right away.

``After nine losses you start to get a complex your not going to beat this guy.''

Ivanisevic said he struggled with his serve Thursday as he had during his three-set second round win over Russia's Mikhael Youzhny.

``He (Rusedski) is not the best returner in the game but he was returning my serve pretty easy,'' said Ivanisevic, who said he'd need constant massage and pain killers to loosen up his injured shoulder before the Australian Open.

The big-serving Croat, the No. 10 seed for the Australian Open, said his injury was similar to that suffered by Australia's Pat Rafter, a torn rotator cuff.

``It's a tear, plus my nerve is jammed,'' he said. ``Every time I lift my arm it's jamming the nerve.

``I don't have a problem with the pain so much, but I lose the power in my arm. My serve was not going anywhere because my arm was very sore, very heavy.''

Fifth seeded Czech Jiri Novak, the 1996 champion in Auckland, progressed to the semifinals with a 6-1 6-1 win over Spain's Felix Mantilla. Mantilla had also had to play his second round match today and ousted fourth seed and 1999 champion Sjeng Schalken of the Netherlands.

Top seed Marat Safin of Russia was tipped out in the second round by Jonas Bjorkman, who returned later Thursday in the quarterfinals and lost to Jerome Golmard of France.

In the other quarterfinal, Michel Kratochvil of Switzerland defeated Argentine David Nalbandian 2-6, 6-1, 7-5.