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Rusedski bids quiet goodbye

August 08, 2006 11:05 IST

Greg Rusedski bid a muted goodbye to Canadian tennis fans on Monday with a lacklustre 6-4, 6-2 loss to Russian Mikhail Youzhny in the opening round of the Toronto Masters.

For most Canadians, however, Rusedski said his goodbyes to the country of his birth more than a decade ago, when he swapped his Canadian passport for a British one.

Certainly Rusedski's exit on Monday was quiet compared to the uproar he created in 1995 when he was labelled a traitor and public enemy number one for turning his back on his country.

While Rusedski endeared himself to his adopted country, voted BBC sports personality of year by the British public in 1997 after reaching the final of the US Open, Canadians were not as impressed, lustily booing him each time he appeared on a Canadian court.

But the home crowd was in a forgiving mood on Monday as the 32-year-old veteran, slowed by a hip injury, was dismissed in routine fashion by Youzhny, in what he said was likely his last competitive match in Canada.

"This is most likely the last time I'll play tennis in Toronto for sure," said Rusedski. "If I were to come back next year it would probably be in Montreal and that would probably be the last one.

"It's been something like 11 years now, I think time kind of heals things. You mature, you change.

"Last year was very special for me getting to the semi-finals. Getting such nice support from the Canadian fans in Montreal.

"Even today they were very polite. I have nothing to complain about."

It is likely Rusedski's sore hip will be the determining factor in how much longer his career will continue.

The Briton sustained the injury playing Thomas Johansson at Queen's the week before Wimbledon and until Toronto had not played since a first-round exit to Marat Safin at the grass court Grand Slam.

The injury was first diagnosed as a muscle tear but an MRI later revealed torn cartilage.

A similar injuries put an end to Magnus Norman's career while three-time French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten has twice had surgery on his hip and yet to make a successful return to the courts.

"You've just got to manage it, see if you can deal with it," said Rusedski, who is hoping to be fit enough for the US Open. "If you can't deal with it then you have to have surgery.

"I just want to see what I still have left in my tennis and whether I can get through this one.

"If I have to have surgery on it, I would assume that would be it because (Magnus) Norman had surgery and never came back.

"(Gustavo) Kuerten has had two surgeries and has not come back yet.

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