Tennis: Henman needs to rediscover magic touch

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The Independent Online
Tim Henman plays his close friend Andrew Richardson in the Nottingham Open today, desperate to recover his form in the build-up to Wimbledon.

Richardson's height - 6ft 7in - makes him an awkward player and he took a set off Henman in the only match Henman won at Queen's Club last week.

Henman is eager to recapture the sharpness which has deserted him since he underwent elbow surgery. He lost in the first round of the Italian and French Opens and was beaten by Jens Knippschild at Queen's - an opponent who had played on grass only once before.

Henman is seeded No 4 at Nottingham, behind the clay court specialists Carlos Moya, Marcello Rios and Gustavo Kuerten, the French Open champion. Kuerten was beaten in the final of the Bologna international clay-court tournament yesterday by Felix Mantilla.

Mantilla ended the Brazilian's winning streak of 16 matches when he triumphed 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 in sweltering heat to earn his second ATP title.

Kuerten has a tough first match at Nottingham against Greg Rusedski, who came within a whisker of beating Goran Ivanisevic in the Stella Artois semi-final. Rusedski, the world No 44 and the second-fiercest server after Mark Philippoussis, is unseeded at Nottingham, but is in excellent grass court form and is sure to improve his ranking before Wimbledon.

Yevgeny Kafelnikov survived three match points yesterday to win the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany. He beat Petr Korda 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 in a two- and-a-half hour see-saw battle.

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