Henman aiming to be the dictator: Tennis

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The Independent Online
Tim Henman has decided on an attacking policy in his bid to add Michael Chang, the world No 2, to his growing list of victims.

"I have nothing to lose and feel if I can be aggressive I can be the dictator," said Henman, ahead of tomorrow's Centre Court match with Chang in the third round of the Australian Open. "I feel I have a good chance against most players at present and don't think my preparation could be any better."

Henman was speaking after a performance against France's Guillaume Raoux which his delighted coach, David Felgate, described as "clinical".

The 22-year-old Henman won 6-3, 6-3, 6-4, dropping only 17 points on his serve and maintaining his focus despite two stoppages for rain. "Tim had a job to do and did it," Felgate said. "It was delightful to watch one of his best displays in a grand slam event."

However, Chang will be a far tougher proposition than Raoux, especially as he looked in terrific form in his 6-3, 7-5, 6-1 defeat of Richey Reneberg.

The second seed, runner-up to Boris Becker last year, made only 15 unforced errors compared to Henman's 35.

Chang, winner of the French Open in 1989 when just 17, said of facing Henman for the first time: "It will be tough. He was coming on strong last year and has been playing some good tennis. I know my shots must be precise. I'm looking forward to it."

Henman said: "I must keep serving well to come out on top. Everyone knows he will make a lot of balls, but I've won seven successive matches now and I'm very comfortable and confident.

"You can't take that for granted, though. You can't expect just to go on court, time the ball well and serve big. But I hope I have the type of game he doesn't like - my style is not to take him on from the baseline. I know being aggressive is the right approach."

Raoux said of Henman: "He uses 100 per cent of his potential. He has a great feeling for match play, is intelligent on court and always does what you are not expecting. If he does not start taking drugs or going out drinking every night he will go very high. I didn't feel I could do anything - not for a single moment did he drop to my level.

"He can certainly worry Chang as Chang is not a big server, and Henman is the type of player Chang does not like. All the rubbish has been cleaned out of his game and potentially he can beat anyone in the world right now. He's full of confidence, but not a guy who you feel is playing above himself. He is playing within himself."

The day's singles play ended with a marathon. The former Wimbledon champion Michael Stich, the 15th seed, was knocked out by the unseeded Ukrainian Andrei Medvedev, 6-4, 1-6, 2-6, 6-4, 7-9 in a match lasting nearly three and a half hours which finished well after midnight.

Bathed in sweat, Medvedev used a blistering backhand and superior court speed to upset a tetchy Stich, whose usually booming serve misfired and who committed unforced errors at crucial times.

Steffi Graf is still favourite to win the women's singles, but was given a fright by Latvia's Larisa Neiland. Graf lost the first four games before recovering to win 7-5, 6-2.

Brenda Schultz-McCarthy, the 10th seed, won the first set 6-0 against Japan's Rika Hiraki before crashing to defeat. Hiraki took the second 6-1 and the decider 6-4 in a remarkable turnaround.

Anke Huber had her match postponed after her mother collapsed just before the German fifth seed was due to face Italy's Francesca Lubiani. Huber's mother, Gerda, was treated by ambulance staff after she collapsed outside the player's lounge and was then taken to hospital.

Britain enjoyed success in the men's doubles, with Mark Petchey and Andrew Richardson winning their opening match. Neil Broad, who partnered Henman to Olympic silver last summer, also won, partnering South Africa's Piet Norval.

Results, Digest, page 27

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