Tennis: Henman hits new heights as world No 5

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The Independent Online
TIM HENMAN moved into the world's top five for the first time in his career when the new ATP Tour rankings were announced yesterday.

Henman, who has not played tennis since his Wimbledon semi-final defeat to Pete Sampras, edged past the Brazilian Gustavo Kuerten who has lost ranking points since his quarter-final run at the All England Club. Henman returns to action in the Mercedes Benz Cup in Los Angeles this week after taking a three-week break from the game and will meet Guillaume Raoux, of France, in the first round.

There is no change for the British No 2, Greg Rusedski, who remains in 10th position. Rusedski managed a career high of No 4 after his 1997 US Open final defeat to the new world No 1 Patrick Rafter.

The twice US Open champion Rafter became the first Australian to reach the top spot for 25 years. The Australian replaced Andre Agassi in the rankings, becoming the first Australian to fill the No 1 position since John Newcombe on 3 June 1974. At 26 years and seven months, Rafter is the fourth-oldest man to be ranked No 1 for the first time, behind Newcombe, the Austrian Thomas Muster and Romania's Ilie Nastase.

"His biggest two years are going to be the next two. If he treats it like that and worries about his own goals, he'll handle it OK," said Newcombe, Australia's Davis Cup captain. Newcombe, believes the Queenslander, who played a decisive part in Australia's Davis Cup quarter-final win over the United States earlier this month, should not peak until at least next year.

Rafter is the fifth No 1 this year, joining Sampras, Carlos Moya, Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Agassi. Once, wrongly, called a "one-Slam wonder" by John McEnroe, Rafter has been consistent this year and had his best-ever Wimbledon, losing in the semi-final to Agassi.

The Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras has moved back up to No 2 and has the possibility this week of regaining the top place in the Los Angeles Open, in which Rafter is not competing. Agassi lies third and Kafelnikov fourth.

WORLD TOP TEN

1 Patrick Rafter (Aus) 3,673pts

2 Pete Sampras (US) 3,594

3 Andre Agassi (US) 3,467

4 Yevgeny Kafelnikov (Rus) 3,212

5 Tim Henman (GB) 2,690

6 Gustavo Kuerten (Br) 2,451

7 Richard Krajicek (Neth) 2,431

8 Alex Corretja (Sp) 2,345

9 Todd Martin (US) 2,332

10 Greg Rusedski (GB) 2,307

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