Who do you think will have the last laugh after British tennis' long-time mantle carriers Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski battle it out for supremacy during their Dubai Tennis ...

By Duane Fonseca (Staff Reporter)

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Published: Tue 22 Feb 2005, 2:34 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 2:57 PM

Championships' first round match that will be held later this evening at the Dubai Tennis Stadium in Garhoud. Will it be Henman, the British No. 1 or their long-running Canadian-import Rusedski, possibly one of the biggest servers in the British game?

Going by their previous records, Henman has won five of the eight matches played between them so far, but that isn't enough to write-off Rusedski, who somehow seems to impact the game because of his serving abilities and his imposing image. The last encounter between the two, at the 2002 Australian Open, was won by Henman. Speaking with City Times, John Roberts, chief tennis writer with The Independent, London, highlighted a few interesting factoids that are sure to make today's game an inspiring watch for the sports purists, even if not British. "Both Rusedski and Henman have done a lot for the sport in Britain," says Roberts. "It would be interesting to note that they even share the same birth date — September 6 — even though they were born a year apart. Rusedski, 31, being a year older. In a way, British tennis has enjoyed their presence for the past decade or so."

"People have always thought of Tim Henman as an underachiever, but that has never been the case. They just don't know enough about the history of the British game. Henman was the only professional player we had 10 years ago. When he (Henman) had just started to make his mark, Rusedski, who had a dual citizenship because of his mother decided to play for Britain. Rusedski's ranking inside the world top 50, made him the British No. 1, pushing Henman back and helping him buy time. Rusedski and Henman started making improvements in the men's game and both would push each other to get better, to fight for the top spot in Britain. Both players have been in some way or the other responsible for the others' development in the game."

"Henman had a splendid time on the circuit last year by reaching the semifinals of the French and the US Opens. He is by far the best player after Fred Perry, who won three consecutive Wimbledon finals in the 1930's. Henman has never won the Wimbledon, but he's made it to four semifinals and just because he's never won the home crown people say he's an underachiever. People don't see that he's been there — in the top 10 in the world — consistently, that he has beaten every name — except Australia's Lleyton Hewitt — in men's tennis."

"At present there is a dearth of good players back home and I believe Henman and Rusedski will be the names Britain will have to rely upon for some more time. Rusedski is back with the national Davis Cup team, and it will be up to him to provide a sort of performance that will help the next crop — David Sherwood, Arvind Parmar, Alex Bogdanovich and Andy Murray, also on the team — to gain some vital experience. Britain last played in the Davis Cup's World Group in 1986, when Spain beat them in Telford."

Britain's 2005 Davis Cup campaign will begin with their Europe/Africa Zone Group 1 game on March 2. With Henman not playing in the event, Rusedski will have a good chance to become Britain's favourite tennis star.

Coming to today's game in Dubai, Roberts has cleverly headlined his piece in The Independent 'Rusedski looks to overpower Henman in duel in the desert'. Looks like the winner will only be revealed by time.

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