Henman's revenge lines up jackpot and Edberg

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The Independent Online
Tennis

The prospects for Britain's top player, Tim Henman, have never looked brighter since his progression to the last 16 of the US Open.

His 6-2, 7-6, 6-4 victory over the No 12 seed Todd Martin, which avenged his defeat in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, not only takes Henman into the fourth round but is likely to take his ranking into the world's top 38 and might even make him the first Briton to qualify for the Grand Slam Cup.

Not since John Lloyd reached the US Open quarter-finals in 1984 to take his ranking into the mid-20s has Britain had a player ranked inside 38, and Henman will almost certainly overtake the highest mark achieved by his British rival Greg Rusedski, who reached 33 in January before suffering a loss of form. Of greater interest to Henman's bank manager would be qualification for December's Grand Slam Cup. This is the controversial event, with pounds 6m in prize-money, which started in 1990 amid acrimony between the International Federation and the then Association of Professionals.

It is played in Munich's Olympic arena and involves the 16 players performing best in the year's Grand Slam tournaments, though there are still question marks about how seriously the players take it.

With a second round in Australia, a quarter-final in Wimbledon and now a fourth round in New York, Henman could already have qualified, and he would guarantee his big pre-Christmas pay day if he beats Stefan Edberg today.

Henman is revelling not only in his good form but also New York City and Flushing Meadow. "It's just very special," he said of playing in what is currently the biggest tennis stadium in the world.

"It's different to Wimbledon, obviously. There are moments when it is slightly off-putting if people call out between first and second serves, but that can happen anywhere.

"You just have to concentrate. I haven't had a problem with it in the two years that I've played. I'm enjoying myself."

Henman will be the villain of the piece if he beats the 30-year-old Edberg, who is playing the final Grand Slam of his illustrious career and is enjoying darling status with the New York crowd.

In the women's event, 15-year-old Martina Hingis created the biggest upset so far when she beat the No 3 seed from Spain, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, to move into the quarter-finals.

The 16th-seeded Swiss opened play in the second week with a 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 victory over the 1994 Open champion to reach the second Grand Slam quarter-final of her career.

Earlier this year she became the youngest Australian Open quarter-finalist and she will now play either the seventh seed, Jana Novotna, or Karina Habsudova (17).

"I just had my best match today and I'm very happy about it," said Hingis, who defeated Steffi Graf earlier this year at the Italian Open.

The match with Sanchez was not without its strange twists, with a pair of controversial over-rules by the chair umpire causing frustration on both sides of the net, and a match point that was interrupted by a rolling water bottle.

Graf took just 51 minutes to repel the 15-year-old Russian, Anna Kournikova. Graf dropped her serve at the start, but then cruised to victory 6-2, 6-1 against an opponent making her US Open debut.

Results, Digest, Page 23

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