Tennis: Henman has to dig deep for success

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TIM HENMAN fought off a determined challenge by Wayne Ferreira to reach the quarter-finals of the Stockholm Open - but may have to win one more match to guarantee his place in the lucrative ATP World Championships.

Greg Rusedski is still on course to secure one of the two remaining berths from the three-man equation after brushing aside Germany's Tommy Haas in straight sets to ease into the second round, where he tackles the American Vince Spadea today for a place in the last eight alongside Henman.

Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who beat the Frenchman Sebastien Grosjean in the second round of the Kremlin Cup in Moscow yesterday, is causing the complications: if the Russian does not win the Kremlin Cup this week, Henman is definitely through to Hanover, however well or badly he does in Stockholm. If Kafelnikov does prevail in Moscow, Henman will have to reach the Stockholm semis, which he will do by beating the winner of last night's late match between the Swedes, Jonas Bjorkman and Magnus Gustafsson.

If Kafelnikov fails even to reach the semi-finals of his competition then Rusedski also makes it through to the ATP Championship; if the Russian prevails, however, Rusedski must win the Stockholm event.

Rusedski, up to No 11 in the world rankings after beating Pete Sampras in the final of last week's Paris Indoor Open, triumphed 6-1, 6-4 in just 52 minutes to continue his winning momentum.

The world No 10 Henman, who beat Mikael Tillstrom in the first round on Monday, saw off Ferreira 7-6, 6-3 in an hour and 28 minutes, but admitted: "It was a tough match. The tennis was up and down for both of us and it was important for me to win the tie-breaker. My game became more consistent afterwards."

Henman said that last week's Paris defeat to Kafelnikov still lingered in his memory earlier this week. "I was thinking about it in my first match against Tillstrom but I'm pleased to have a good start to the week. Today I picked up my game and found my rhythm. That was the key to the win."

In another second-round match the American Todd Martin, who beat Andre Agassi and Pat Rafter in Paris before losing in the semi-finals to Sampras, ended the run of the Australian qualifier Wayne Arthurs in straight sets. Arthurs caused a shock on Tuesday by putting out second seed Karol Kucera of Slovakia, one of the six men already qualified for Hanover.

The World Group Davis Cup tie between England and the United States will be staged at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham from 2 to 4 April next year, the Lawn Tennis Association announced yesterday.

The ATP Tour said yesterday that it was "unconcerned" by talk of rival tours after a German magazine had said that Boris Becker was working on plans to launch a breakaway circuit from the year 2000.

Sport Bild reported that Becker, now semi-retired as a player, has approached tournament directors, suggesting they break their ties with the ATP Tour and start a new series. According to the magazine the head of Formula One, Bernie Ecclestone, is also involved in the project. However the ATP Tour chief executive, Mark Miles, said that the ATP had had discussions in the past with Becker, who is working with the Prisma agency.

"For a variety of reasons, the Tour decided not to pursue those discussions and instead signed a partnership deal to market and promote tennis from the year 2000," he said.

"Since that announcement Prisma/Boris Becker have twice tried to pursue their plans. The ATP Tour is unconcerned about proposals from any other parties about plans for any `new' tour."

He added that the ATP Tour "flatly rejects" suggestions in Sport Bild that there was any deadline for negotiations with tournament directors or that there was not solidarity between the tournament directors and the ATP Tour.