MATCH OF THE WEEK

Richard Krajicek v Tim Henman
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The Independent Online
In retrospect this was the match that probably determined the course of the whole men's singles tournament.

At the time it took place on Tuesday night, Richard Krajicek was the highest-seeded player in the bottom half of the draw, with the experience of having beaten Michael Stich and Pete Sampras at last year's Wimbledon and with the ability to beat them again. His defeat let Stich and particularly Sampras back in and led indirectly to Sampras being a clear favourite today.

The quite extraordinary thing about the match was that it recreated the atmosphere of People's Sunday when Tim Henman had beaten Paul Haarhuis 14-12 in the fifth. People believe People's Sunday is unique, but with Henman returning to the scene of the crime with all the expectations, a young pretender taking on the king, and another Dutchman at that, it almost matched Sunday night.

Henman started in terrific form, striking the ball so cleanly it belied the court which looks - and this year plays - like a spinner's wicket. Krajicek was also hitting the ball well and it was a terrific tussle. The three sets they played on Tuesday night all went to the tiebreak, which I think is unique in this year's Championships.

In particular, Henman's forehand volley stands out - it could in time become as much his trademark as the Edberg backhand was - and he deservedly took the first set. Yet with the king defending so resolutely, the second set deservedly went his way, and the momentum shifted. Krajicek's serve, which is like a karate blow with the ability to break bricks, began to register, and it was hardly a surprise when he took the first break to go 3-1 up in the third set.

This was the point when the match turned. Suddenly Krajicek showed his old weaknesses, he wanted to get off court when there was clearly enough light to finish at least the third set. He spoke to the umpire, asked the referee to take them off, and lost the thread of the match - most unprofessional and really outrageous from a champion. Perhaps he was so relieved to have survived the storm of the first set and got back to 1-1 that he wasn't mindful of the overall state of the match. Given his state of mind he did well to reach the tiebreak, but he deservedly lost it.

When they resumed on Wednesday afternoon the tennis was not of the same high standard, and this time Henman was under the greater pressure. But he rode the support to play the big points well, while Krajicek reaped the rewards for his doubting Thomas attitude of the previous day.

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