Tennis: Henman advances in style

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The Independent Online
TIM HENMAN remained on course for a third-round showdown with Greg Rusedski after cruising to victory in the Newsweek Champions Cup here.

After a tentative start, Henman eased past the talented Moroccan Hicham Arazi with a 6-3, 6-3 second-round win on the Stadium Court in the night match on Tuesday.

The seventh seed will now face his 10th-seeded compatriot if Rusedski can beat Australia's Scott Draper in his second-round match, which was scheduled for late yesterday. Henman's only real crisis came when he was 15-40 down in the sixth game of the first set.

But his left-handed opponent then showed his a frail temperament, sending three tame backhands into the net. Henman believed that his awkward start against Arazi was because of the timing of the game. "Playing my first match at night is pretty difficult, but it's a pretty good start," he said.

Earlier in the evening Yevgeny Kafelnikov's bid to topple Pete Sampras as the world No 1 ground to a halt as the Australian Open champion lost his opening match. The second-seeded Russian let slip a 3-1 lead in the third set as the unseeded Brazilian Gustavo Kuerten battled back to a 0-6, 7-6, 6-3 second-round victory.

World No 5 Pat Rafter, another of the players breathing down Sampras's neck, also bowed out, losing in three sets to the 33rd-ranked German Nicolas Kiefer 7-6, 3-6, 7-5.

Kafelnikov and Rafter were among four players who had a chance to grab the number one ranking from the American this week. Now only the third- seeded Alex Corretja and the fourth-seeded Carlos Moya, both of Spain, remain. A dejected Kafelnikov said: "I can't really explain what happened. I just lost the focus for a little while. Don't get me wrong, I was trying as hard as I could. There's not many times you get a chance to become number one in the world."

In the women's Evert Cup, at the same venue, the fourth-seeded Jana Novotna, fifth-seeded Steffi Graf, sixth-seeded Mary Pierce and Serena Williams all lived up to expectations on Tuesday, winning third-round matches convincingly.

Pierce won 6-1, 6-0 match against Rita Grande of Italy. Williams, coming off her first tournament victory in Paris, had a 6-0, 7-5 victory against Cara Black of Zimbabwe.

The quarter-final pairings for the women are the top-seeded Martina Hingis of Switzerland against the unseeded Chanda Rubin of the United States, 12th seed Sandrine Testud, of France, against the unseeded Henrieta Nagyova of Slovakia, Pierce against Williams, and Novotna against Graf,

Novotna, the reigning Wimbledon champion, making her first appearance at this event since 1990, reached the quarter-finals with a confident 6-1, 6-4 win over the American Brie Rippner. Novotna needed only an hour to dispatch the 81st-ranked Rippner. Graf, twice champion here, was even quicker, taking only 58 minutes to whip Ai Sugiyama of Japan 6-0, 6-1.

Novotna was anticipating an interesting quarter-final against Graf, a player she has lost to 28 times out of the of 32 times they have met. The last time Novotna beat Graf was when she led 6-4 in a final match at the Philadelphia tournament in 1996 when Graf retired from the match.

The last time she beat Graf in a match that finished properly was at the 1992 Virginia Slims of Chicago.

Results, Digest, page 27