Henman and Rusedski dispatched
TENNIS: Britain's leading singles players suffer a pre-Wimbledon setback in west London
Thursday 13 June 1996
Tim Henman was defeated by Andrei Olhovskiy, who partners Yevgeny Kafelnikov in the Russian Davis Cup team, and Greg Rusedski lost to Todd Woodbridge, who forms the world's No 1 doubles team with his Australian compatriot Mark Woodforde.
Both Britons, who are due to play in Nottingham next week, acknowledged that much work is required in the 12 days before the start of Wimbledon. Henman, beaten 6-7, 6-4, 6-3 by Olhovskiy, was particularly disappointed with his forehand returns. Rusedski, dispatched 6-1, 6-4 by Woodbridge, was concerned about the quality of the second shots he had to play after pounding down his serves.
Henman performed well until midway through the second set. The 21-year- old from Oxford saved three set points at 4-5 in the opening set, and gained the initiative in the tie-break by confidently returning a second serve down the line for 4-1: the very forehand shot which was to cost him later.
Although broken in the third game of the second set, Henman had two opportunities to recover to 3-3, only for the forehand to desert him. "My forehand return let me down a lot today," Henman said, "and when you can pinpoint something as precisely as that it gives you something to go away and work on.''
Olhovskiy may be ranked 49 places below Henman, at No 110, but he has the all-court skills to profit on any surface. He demonstrated that as a Wimbledon qualifier in 1992, eliminating Jim Courier, the No 1 seed, in the third round.
The Russian broke in the opening game of the final set and wore Henman down in the third. After saving four break points, the Briton double-faulted to offer a fifth, which Olhovskiy converted with a backhand down the line.
Henman briefly raised hope among his supporters on Court No 1 by breaking Olhovskiy with a splendid backhand lob when the Russian served for the match at 5-2, but lost his own serve in the next game.
There was less to enthuse about in Rusedski's case. Woodbridge presented him with the opportunity of a dream start by twice double-faulting en route to 0-40 in the opening game, but Rusedski was unable to convert any one of five break points. A sixth was presented in the fifth game, only to be whisked away by the Australian's volley. "It was one of those days you want to put behind you," Rusedski said.
Woodbridge, who, at 5ft 10in, is on the small side by modern tennis standards, has the ability to turn opponents' strengths against them. "I was lucky to get out of that first game," he admitted. "I just hung together, and from then on I returned well and nullified his weapon [Rusedski's serve]. Everything else in my game is better, and I think that showed.''
The Australian, who hopes to continue his penchant for frustrating the big servers by forcing them to play more shots than they find comfortable, appreciates that Rusedski and his ilk are perfectly capable of retaliating. "Unfortunately, on certain days you can't beat these guys,'' Woodbridge said. "They serve too big and take a swing at your serves and their returns go in.'' Apart from losing the match, Rusedski had some of his tennis clothing stolen from the locker-rooms.
Michael Stich, who lost to Kafelnikov in last Sunday's French Open final, defeated the American Michael Joyce, 7-6, 6-7, 6-2, but was not impressed. "I'm still trying to work out in my mind how I lost in Paris," the German said.
Stefan Edberg advanced with a 7-6, 6-3, win against Australia's Sandon Stolle and Goran Ivanisevic scarcely paused for breath in dismissing the Czech Martin Damm, 6-2, 6-2, in only 41 minutes.
Results, Sporting Digest, page 24
Latest in Sport
Robin van Persie to Fenerbahce: Manchester United striker 'agrees to personal terms' with Turkish side
Arsenal defender Kieran Gibbs posts bizarre video of his Miami holiday being invaded by an iguana
Women's World Cup 2015: England secure third place as they beat Germay in extra time with penalty by Fara Williams
Arsenal transfer news: Gunners will only consider 'astronomical offer' from Atletico Madrid for Santi Cazorla
Why is it that there’s no women’s team at Manchester United? - Michael Calvin
- 1 Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
- 2 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 3 Optical illusion turns blue demon into brunette
- 4 Right to die: Belgian doctors rule depressed 24-year-old woman has right to end her life
- 5 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...