Tennis: Henman ready for Gustafsson

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The Independent Online
The British No 1, Tim Henman, made a confident start to 1997 yesterday when he coasted into the quarter-finals of the Qatar Open in Doha. The 22-year-old beat Egypt's Tamer El Sawy 6-3, 6-2 to score his second recent success over the player ranked 149th in the world.

Henman, who beat the Egyptian 6-7, 6-2, 6-2 in a dead Davis Cup rubber on Wimbledon grass last September, needed just 31 minutes to take the first set and was even more impressive in the second. El Sawy beat the third-seeded Dutchman Jan Siemerink, the world No 15, 6-3, 6-7, 7-6 in the first round after battling through the qualifying competition.

The result means that Henman will improve his present world ranking of 29 which is based on a player's best 14 tournaments during the past 12 months. Henman, who took just 65 minutes in all to overcome El Sawy, will meet Sweden's Magnus Gustafsson in the quarter-finals. The fifth-seeded Gustafsson lost to Henman at Wimbledon.

The Swede, who celebrates his 30th birthday on Friday, beat Slovakia's Dominik Hrbaty 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 in the second round.

The Australian Patrick Rafter paid a high price for his sportsmanship when the Russian, Andrei Cherkasov, beat him in the second round of the Australian Hardcourt Championships in Adelaide. The unseeded Rafter was one point away from levelling the match at one set all when he overruled officials, saying that his shot had landed out.

Because of his honesty, Rafter found himself 13-14 down in the second- set tie-break, instead of being ahead 14-13. He lost the next point to succumb to Cherkasov, a wild card entry, 6-2, 7-6.

"Very few guys would do what he did. Normally you wouldn't say anything and just keep playing," Cherkasov said of his opponent's gesture.

In the next round, Cherkasov will play Sweden's Mikael Tillstrom, who advanced without hitting a ball after the Zimbabwean Byron Black withdrew with a stomach virus. In the first round, Tillstrom beat the world No 3, top seed and defending champion, Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia.

Marc Rosset started the year on a disappointing note when he was forced to retire with a back injury from the Hopman Cup match against South Africa to end the Swiss team's run in the mixed-team event in Perth.

Rosset, wearing a back brace, looked set to steer the second seeds to a comfortable victory in their Group B tie after the teenager Martina Hingis had easily disposed of Amanda Coetzer 6-1, 6-2 in under an hour.

The tall right-hander was in command of his match against world No 10 Wayne Ferreira, leading 6-0, 2-0 when he collided with a ball girl at the net and fell to the court clutching his back. The Swiss continued after a pain-killing injection and chiropractic treatment but grimaced in agony at the change of ends and was unable to go on.

Rosset's career has been plagued by back injuries and he further damaged muscles around a lower disc during practice on Saturday. He forfeited his opening singles tie to Romania's Adrian Voinea on Monday, but managed to play the mixed doubles with Hingis to secure a 2-1 victory. "That's certainly the only match I've ever won where I walked off the court after winning only one game," Ferreira said. Rosset and Hingis had to forfeit the mixed doubles.

Croatia, France, Australia and the United States are contesting Group A of the event and Switzerland, Germany, Romania and South Africa are in Group B. The South Africans will qualify for the final if they beat Romania tomorrow.

Results, Digest, page 21

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