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Tennis: Battle-weary Rusedski sees Agassi as inspiration.

GREG RUSEDSKI admits he is a 'glutton for punishment' but will take inspiration from Andre Agassi as he tries to prolong his career.

The British No 2 crashed out of the US Open in the first round confessing a season marred by injury and poor form had taken its toll.

After his 6-4 4-6 6-2 5-7 6-4 loss to unseeded Frenchman Gregory Carraz, Rusedski - a former US Open finalist - admitted the omens were not good for big-serving players hoping to play beyond 30.

The 30-year-old said, 'I think if you look at 30, Richard Krajicek retired, Pat Rafter's retired. A guy who gives us inspiration is probably Agassi who is very impressive at 33 to be ranked No 1 for this championship.

'Pete Sampras is leaving us, so not too many attacking players are left above 30 these days. The problem is I can't give myself a break because I have to get my body physically to a level where it can take five sets for six or seven matches.

'If you take the time off, then you don't keep on building. So it's kind of like you just have to be a glutton for the punishment if you want to continue to do it.'

Rusedski revealed he is tiring of the all too frequent cycle of fighting back from injury only to see his Grand Slam ambitions thwarted.

He said, 'It's very difficult week in, week out. You know, my goal was to be ready for the US Open. I got ready for the US Open.

'I'd just like to see myself playing some better tennis. I felt like I was getting better.

'But it's a small difference that you need - just a little click here, a little click there. That hasn't happened for me this hard-court season. Hopefully I can make up for it in the indoor season coming up.'
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 27, 2003
Words:312
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