Henman faces busy weekend

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The Independent Online
Tim Henman has been given the task of playing three matches when Britain's Davis Cup team face Ukraine in the Euro/Africa Group One tie which begins in Kiev today.

The British captain, David Lloyd, will play Henman and Greg Rusedski in the singles, as expected, but has also included Henman in the doubles with Neil Broad.

Henman and Broad were silver medallists in the Atlanta Olympics and Lloyd knows the result of the tie may depend on the doubles, with the pair up against Andrei Medvedev and Dimitri Poliakov. Medvedev, the Ukrainian No 1 ranked 19 in the world, is a clay court specialist and, on paper, should beat both Henman and Rusedski in the singles on that surface.

But Britain should win both singles against Ukrainian No 2, Andrei Rybalko, who is not in the world's top 200. So Lloyd has put in his best doubles team for what may prove the vital rubber tomorrow.

When the draw was made yesterday, Lloyd was delighted. Under the current rules the two No 1s play on the last day, Sunday, although Lloyd was anxious Henman should play Rybalko first today before Medvedev plays Rusedski.

Lloyd said: "If Tim can give us a winning start it will take some of the pressure off Greg, who has a difficult match against Medvedev."

If Britain win this tie they will remain in Euro/Africa Group One, but should they lose they will have to meet Hungary at home in September for the right to stay in the section.

Defeat against Hungary would see them relegated to Euro/Africa Group Two, but Lloyd is confident Britain can beat Ukraine and make a Hungarian tie irrelevant.

But, even if the worst happened and Britain were beaten in Kiev, they should have no problems against a weak Hungarian team, especially as Britain would be at home and would have choice of surface.

DRAW (for Davis Cup tie between Ukraine and Great Britain in Euro/Africa Group One, Kiev: Today: T Henman v A Rybalko, G Rusedski v A Medvedev. Tomorrow: Henman and N Broad v Medvedev and D Poliakov. Sunday: Henman v Medvedev, Rusedski v Rybalko.

n Wimbledon finalist Cedric Pioline dropped out of the Swiss Open in Gstaad yesterday, retiring from his second-round match against Alex Corretja because of a sore right arm. Pioline was trailing the second- seeded Spaniard 6-2 3-2 when he withdrew. "My arm just doesn't feel like holding a racket right now," said the Frenchman, who twice received treatment during changeovers.