Rusedski Must Wait and See as Stella Artois Entry List Confirms Roddick, Hewitt and Henman
With most of the world's best grass-court players in the draw contesting the Stella Artois Championships in 2004, Greg Rusedski must play a waiting game after the official entry list was announced today.
Defending champion Andy Roddick, three-time winner Lleyton Hewitt and Britain's Tim Henman are all definitely in, but Rusedski currently stands three places outside the cut-off for direct entry into the tournament, to be held at the Queen's Club, June 7-13, 2004. American Jeff Salzenstein, at No.104, is the lowest ranked direct entrant, so Rusedski, at No.107, will hope to receive one of Tournament Director Ian Wight's five wild card invitations.
Three of the four Wimbledon semifinalists in 2003 will compete for the Stella Artois title this year, with Australia's Mark Philippoussis and Frenchman Sebastien Grosjean both joining Roddick. Last year, Roddick defeated Grosjean in the Stella Artois final, while Philippoussis won the event in 1997.
Former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic, the exciting Thai, Paradorn Srichaphan, and Max 'The Beast' Mirnyi will all be playing, as will an exciting trio of young Americans - Taylor Dent, Robbie Ginepri and James Blake.
The seeded players, particularly Hewitt, will be kept on their toes by the news that the 6'10" Croatian Ivo Karlovic and Frenchman Nicolas Escude will both be in the main draw. Karlovic and Escude are both well known for their expertise on grass. They were also the last two players to defeat Hewitt at Wimbledon - either side of the Australian's victory at the All England Club in 2002.
The speed-gun that ruled Roddick to have equaled the fastest ever serve (149mph) in his Stella Artois semi-final with Andre Agassi last year, will be severely tested again in 2004. Roddick has since improved the world record to 152mph, while Dent, Mirnyi and Karlovic are all big servers. They are joined at the Queen's Club by Wayne Arthurs, the 1994 Stella Artois champion Todd Martin and Croatia's Mario Ancic, who all regularly serve faster than 125mph.