Tennis: Henman drops down rankings

Tim Henman, the British No 2, is unlikely to be seeded at the Australian Open after dropping from 17 to 19 in the latest world rankings.

The ATP Tour started a week later than usual this year and Henman, who began 1997 by reaching the final at Doha and then winning the Sydney tournament, has lost a massive number of points.

Despite reaching the last eight in Doha, Henman has gone down from 1,929 points to 1,622 and was overtaken yesterday by both the Australian Mark Philippoussis and Spain's Albert Costa in the rankings.

The seedings for the Australian Open - the first Grand Slam of the year which starts next Monday - will be announced later this week.

The former world No 1 Andre Agassi jumped into the top 100 for the first time in almost five months as he searched for his old, elusive form. ATP Tour rankings put Agassi at 86, up from 110 a month ago, after he fought his way into the semi-finals of the Australian Hardcourt Championships last week, his first semi-final appearance in an ATP Tour tournament for 11 months.

Agassi, who vied with the present world No 1 Pete Sampras for the top ranking before the acceleration of his decline during the last year, was using the Adelaide tournament as preparation for the Australian Open.

Agassi's young conqueror in Adelaide, the Australian schoolboy Lleyton Hewitt, will join him in the Open draw after earning a wild card entry to the Grand Slam event yesterday.

Dubbed "Boy Wonder" by the Australian press, on Saturday the unseeded Hewitt became the lowest ranked player to win an ATP Tour title - he was ranked 550 before the start of the event - defeating his 27-year-old compatriot Jason Stoltenberg. He also became the third-youngest ATP Tour winner, at the age of 16 years and 11 months.

Britain's No 1, Greg Rusedski, who stayed at No 6 in the world with 2,660 points, is almost certain to be seeded sixth which should give him a good chance of an extended run and a possible boost in his ranking since he was beaten in the first round in Melbourne last year.

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