Henman beats his final jinx

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The Independent Online
Tim Henman took another step in his graduation towards the top echelons of world tennis when he reached the first ATP Tour final of his career in the Qatar Open yesterday. But the British No 1 was made to work hard to beat Morroco's Hicham Arazi 6-3 2-6 6-2 in the sweltering conditions in Doha.

Henman, 22, was never fully in control against the diminutive left-hander, himself only 23, as both players demonstrated occasional signs of nerves in a match that could have gone either way. However, it was Henman who proved, once again, that his temperament is one of his main attributes.

After winning the first set in some comfort, Henman struggled with his first serve in the second set, allowing Arazi to take the game to a deciding third. At the start of the final set it looked as if Henman was in danger of adding to his many semi-final disappointments until the world No 29 found his rhythm, and the range with his serves, to coast through to today's final.

Henman will now play the American former world No 1 Jim Courier who defeated the twice-French Open winner Sergi Bruguera in straight sets 6-4 6-2 in the other semi-final.

"A lot of people will see it as the breaking of a jinx today, and certainly I have learned from the past and reaching my first final is the reward for that," A happy but relieved Henman said afterwards. "I've competed hard for this and the work I have put into the serve and volley part of my game has paid off and I feel really confident about tomorrow. I feel I can go out and play some good tennis."