Tennis: Henman drifts past Draper

Click to follow
The Independent Online
ANDRE AGASSI reckons the speed of the concrete courts at the United States Open is going to hurt many of the Spanish men of clay. Tim Henman hopes this proves to be the case when he plays Felix Mantilla, of Barcelona.

Henman joined Greg Rusedski in the second round yesterday after a straight- sets win against Scott Draper, the Australian left-hander who defeated Pat Rafter en route to the Stella Artois title at London's Queen's Club a week before Wimbledon.

The British No 2 came off the court to discover that Petr Korda, his projected fourth-round opponent, was already out of the tournament. Korda, the Australian Open champion, seeded No 4, lost his opening match against Bernd Karbacher, a German qualifier, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-1.

Mantilla, ranked No 18, is of immediate concern to Henman after winning his first-round match against the New Zealander Brett Steven, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.

"My attacking game will have to be better than his defensive game," Henman said. "He is going to make me play a lot of balls, but I feel confident."

Henman, displaying admirable composure for most of the match against Draper, occasionally had problems with his first serve before securing victory, 6-3, 7-6, 7-6. The No 13 seed had to save two set points in the second set and was under pressure at the start of the third, when Draper had two chances to break.

Playing on Court No 3, Henman and Draper had to contend with noise from flights from La Guardia. Their concentration was also under threat from spectators walking along the gangways during points. Crowd control is a loose definition. As Henman said: "If you come to the US Open expecting it to be quiet and people sitting still, I think you are a little bit naive."

The morning was overcast, and early in the match it seemed that Henman might be about to have a day of missed opportunities. He required six break points to crack Draper's serve in the opening set, two of them in the first game. After breaking for 3-1, however, Henman took the set in only 28 minutes.

Draper, broken for 4-3 in the second set, struck back when Henman served for the set at 5-4. The Australian converted the second of two break points with a return off a second serve. Draper's two set points came with Henman serving to stay in the set at 5-6. The Australian netted a forehand on the first chance and had the second whipped away by Henman's angled backhand volley.

Henman won the opening two points of the tie-break and then double-faulted. Draper missed on the backhand to slip to 3-5, Henman taking two of the next three points, winning the shoot-out, 7-4, with a backhand pass which clipped the netcord before continuing down the line.

After serving his way in and out of trouble in the opening game of the third set, in which he double-faulted for the eighth time, Henman, who hit 14 aces, played steadily to the tie-break. He won this one 7-3, putting Draper under pressure to waft an attempted backhand cross-court wide on match point after two hours and 12 minutes.

Having failed to convert eight match points in a tie-break against Richard Krajicek in New Haven recently, Henman was delighted with yesterday's execution.

"There were areas of my game that can be a little bit better, but I'm very satisfied to be in the next round without having dropped a set," he said. "I didn't play the best game when I served for the second set [at 5-4], but he raised his level and I was able to save a couple of set points. After the last tie-break I played in New Haven I wasn't sure what to expect, but to win two sort of rested those memories."

The 30-year-old Korda, who defeated Pete Sampras in the fourth round last year, only hit the target this time when describing his performance. "I was struggling in every game. Whatever I did, I did wrong. It is a big disappointment," he said.

Karbacher, ranked No 155, confessed that he was lucky to win some of his matches in the qualifying event. "And it is a pretty long time ago that I beat a top 10 guy," he added. It was 1996, and the guy was Sampras.

David Lloyd announced his support group for Rusedski and Henman in the British Davis Cup squad for the World Group promotion play-off against India at Nottingham from 25 to 27 September. The captain has brought in Miles Maclagen, a 24-year-old who was born in Zimbabwe of Scottish parentage. The South African-born doubles specialist, Chris Broad, is also included, as is Hampshire's Chris Wilkinson.

Serena Williams advanced to join her older sister, Venus, in the second round of the women's singles after defeating Bulgaria's Pavlina Stoyanova, 6-2, 6-1. Monica Seles and Steffi Graf, both former champions, had straight- set victories, as did Jana Novotna, the Wimbledon champion.

Results, Digest, page 27