Victorious Henman ready for Sampras

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The Independent Online
TIM HENMAN took another step towards achieving his dream of being the first British man for 63 years to win the Wimbledon singles title when he beat the Frenchman Cedric Pioline yesterday to go through to the semi-finals.

But many of Henman's fans, who cheered and punched the air every time he won a point, will not be able to watch him at courtside against the reigning champion Pete Sampras today. All Centre Court tickets for the last four days are pre-sold.

Henman, 24, meeting Sampras in the semi-finals for the second consecutive year, will be hoping that today's encounter is not a re-run of last year's. Then, the American dispatched him in four sets. Henman has lost every one of the five matches the pair have played. Despite that record, he said after yesterday's quarter-final that his confidence was high. "I'm playing the best in the world at the moment, and I shall go out there and do my best," he said. Asked if he was daunted by the prospect of today's clash, he said: "If you want to win the tournament, you would also want to beat the very best. I appreciate it's not going to be an easy match. But I'll go out there and do my best ... there are two things that are going to happen: I'm either going to win or I'm going to lose."

Henman, who last year became the first British man to reach the semi- finals for more than 20 years, is hoping to emulate Fred Perry, who took the title in 1936. If he does achieve the feat of beating Sampras today, he will meet either Andre Agassi, the French Open champion, or the Australian Pat Rafter, the No 2 seed, in the final.

Anyone for lunch? page 7 Wimbledon match reports, pages 30-32