Tennis: Henman and Rusedski survive shaky spells

TIM HENMAN and Greg Rusedski won their opening matches at the Lipton Championships yesterday, although Henman came close to becoming a blushing world No 6 as he struggled to overcome his dodgy forehand in defeating Cecil Mamit, a 22-year-old American ranked 80 places below him.

The British No 1's worries began in the opening game, when he squandered two opportunities to break serve, and persisted until he broke for 4-1 in the final set en route to a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory. Henman, who received a bye in the first round, now meets Jerome Golmard in round three; an ominous prospect considering that he has lost twice to the Frenchman, most recently in the quarter-finals in Dubai last month.

Rusedski evidently did not relish spending Friday at No 13 and set about raising his ranking back towards the top 10. The British No 2 advanced to the third round with a 6-4, 6-4 win against Adrian Voinea, of Romania, and now plays Germany's Hendrik Dreekmann, who defeated the South African Wayne Ferreira, 6-4, 6-4.

Britain's interest in the women's singles evaporated when Sam Smith, the nation's only representative in the main draw, was defeated in the first round by Germany's Andrea Glass, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. Smith, ranked No 59, five places above Glass, led 2-0 in the final set and lost the next five games.

Voinea, ranked No 77, had not experienced the might of Rusedski's serve before and may have thought he was on to a good thing when he managed to pass his opponent three times when breaking in the opening game. The Romanian then beckoned Rusedski into the contest by double-faulting twice when leading 4-3. Rusedski saved two break points at 4-4 before cracking Voinea in the next game. Rusedski netted a backhand drive on a break point for 3-1 in the second set, and double-faulted in the seventh game to trail, 3-4. A forehand pass down the line put Rusedski level at 4-4, and after surviving a double-fault on his first game point for 5-4, he hustled Voinea into missing three backhands in the final game. A potent service return on Rusedski's second match point lured Voinea into netting a forehand half-volley.

When Boris Becker made his debut at the United States Open in 1985, spectators marvelled at his disregard for injury as he dived about the concrete courts. Now American crowds, in common with others elsewhere, are simply pleased to see old "Boom-Boom" fit enough to be able to stand up and play.

The 31-year-old German did not let anybody down in the opening round on Thursday night, least of all himself. Fears that sudden injury or illness would cause him to withdraw, as on so many occasions in recent times, proved groundless. Becker was even able to steady himself after an ominous second set against Gianluca Pozzi to defeat the Italian left-hander, 6- 4, 1-6, 6-4.

Becker has set his mind on finishing his playing career with one last appearance at Wimbledon, where we imagined that the three-times champion's valediction was part of the archive footage from 1997. "I'm going to retire this summer," he reminded us after the Pozzi match. "Until then, I want to give it a good show. I want to prepare myself for my last Grand Slam. I think that's enough reason for me to work hard again and to prepare myself as a professional."

His nostalgia for Wimbledon took hold at Christmas. "I was thinking about what I was going to do," Becker said, "whether to prepare myself for Davis Cup, which last year was the reason I continued playing. But Davis Cup could be very long. We have a strong team with [Nicolas] Kiefer and [Tommy] Haas. Chances are we'll be in the semi-finals. Then it's October. It was something I didn't want to do. I decided to stop this summer because my wife is expecting my second baby. I thought that was a good moment for me to call it all off."

Becker plans to play on the concrete courts of Hong Kong and Tokyo and then switch to the clay in Munich and Rome before setting foot on grass at the Stella Artois Championships at the Queen's Club.

And where better than Wimbledon, "to finish my career where it really started for me. Hopefully I'll be able to walk out there again and play good tennis."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine