I bumped into Greg Rusedski over the weekend whilst in New York at the US Open tennis at Flushing Meadow. Greg's one of the nicest guys in sport, a former US Open finalist and world number four, no less, who is always smiling and willing to indulge in a spot of banter.
In our case it is often to do with the time we faced each other on a tennis court, him having just arrived in the UK with the fastest serve in world tennis, and me a participatory sports writer, who can play all sports, but none particulary well. What should have happened is that his first serve was supposed to whizz past me before I had barely moved. What actually happened was that he sent down a howitzer, I stuck my racquet out and watched, in total amazement, as the ball hit the very middle of my weapon, and rebounded back across the net at the same speed for a clean winner. Cue celebration from me and a furrowed brow from a stunned Rusedski. This was not in the script at all.
After that normal service was resumed. Greg sent down a mixture of pure physical serves that I was better advised to avoid rather than return, or slices that made the ball veer further and further away from me. God knows how many serves Greg sent down but after at least 20 (16 clean aces and three where I edged the ball to the slips) his honour was restored and with it his trademark smile. "Thanks Ian, I enjoyed it," he said, beaming. What he meant was he hated one serve, and loved the other 19. Still, I'll take the one winning return. For a few seconds, at least, I was better than the world number four.