Tennis: Henman tension mars build-up to Davis Cup tie

BRITAIN'S PROSPECTS of staying in the World Group of the Davis Cup were enhanced by the birth of a baby. Marcos Ferreira, 7lb 10oz, has detained his father, Wayne, the South African No 1, at home in Johannesburg, fulfilling a promise he made to his wife, Liesl, in spite of overtures from his national tennis association.

It would be a pity if a spot of childishness were to deflect Britain from the task of defeating a determined but makeshift South African side in the promotion-relegation tie at the National Indoor Arena here over the next three days.

Remembering the wonderful atmosphere generated in the same arena at Easter, when Britain narrowly lost to the United States in the first round, there was a slightly frosty air when Tim Henman met the media yesterday.

This mood had carried over from the US Open after Henman's first-round loss to the Argentinian Guillermo Canas. No critic was more severe on Henman than the player himself. But the 25-year-old from Oxfordshire took exception to suggestions in the press that he and his coach, David Felgate, should seek advice from other coaches on a consultancy basis.

Although Henman, along with his team-mates, Greg Rusedski, Neil Broad and Miles Maclagan, politely co-operated with the media after the draw was made yesterday, Henman was disinclined to engage in one-to-one interviews, although Sue Barker spoke with him on BBC Television. Asked by Barker beforehand if he would mind discussing the speculation concerning Felgate, Henman said she could ask whatever she liked. "David Felgate will always be my coach," he said.

Uneasy relationships between sportsmen and the press are commonplace and are largely irrelevant unless the competitors allow them to affect their form. Acrimony has even been known to act as a spur.

Rusedski also had a bad experience at the US Open, failing to serve out his fourth-round match against the American Todd Martin, who recovered to win from two-sets-to-love down. Rusedski, like Henman, was scathing about his own performance. And the encouraging aspect of yesterday's pre- match gathering was that both players sounded determined to make amends.

"I think in a way you want to remember the disappointments to fire you up," Henman said. "It's a stepping stone. I didn't play well in the States, and this is my first opportunity to put things right."

Rusedski, asked if he had put the Martin match out of his mind, said: "We'll find out this weekend. It was very disappointing for me, because I had the match won. I've just got to re-focus and take the positives into the Davis Cup."

Although individual world rankings are not always the best guide when players represent their country, the South Africans will do well to rise above their standings in the ATP Tour and past form in the Davis Cup. Neville Godwin, their No 1, is ranked No 198 and will make his Davis Cup debut when he plays Rusedski in the opening singles rubber this afternoon.

Grant Stafford, who plays Henman today, is ranked No 500 and has lost his five previous Davis Cup singles matches. He has yet to win a match on the ATP Tour this year.

Henman is Britain's No 1 for the tie, even though Rusedski has overtaken him this week in the world rankings (No 6 to No 7). Davis Cup rules state that rankings at the time of team nominations are the ones that apply.

Whatever the order, Rusedski and Henman ought to give Britain a 2-0 lead today and be good enough to complete the job in the reverse singles on Sunday, even if the South African partnership of David Adams and John- Laffnie de Jager wins tomorrow's doubles rubber.

David Lloyd, Britain's captain, has nominated Henman and the South African- born Neil Broad, the 1996 Olympic Games silver-medallists, but is allowed to change the team up to an hour before the match.

Having invited both Felgate and Rusedski's coach, Sven Groeneveld, to help prepare the players, Lloyd considers that the tie has come at the right time to hasten rehabilitation. "I think, being in a team event, Tim and Greg will help each other," he said.

"Tim has played a lot of matches, and it eventually catches up with you; like a boxer, you get punch-drunk. He needed a break. He's mentally strong, but no matter who you are, you're not only going to go up, you're going to have bad days as well. Greg had a different problem. He had a guy [Martin] where he wanted him, but couldn't finish him. A good match tomorrow with put him right."

Lloyd reiterated that he would resign if Britain lost the tie and returned to the Euro-African Zone. "That would be like Manchester United going from the Premiership to the First Division," he said.



Today's singles

(play starts at 2pm)

Greg Rusedski v Neville Godwin

Tim Henman v Grant Stafford

Tomorrow's doubles (3pm)

Neil Broad-Henman v David Adams-John-Laffnie de Jager

Sunday's reverse singles (1pm)

Henman v Godwin

Rusedski v Stafford


(Britain lead 6-2)

1919 Britain 4 South Africa 1


1924 Britain 4 South Africa 1


1929 Britain 5 South Africa 0


1931 Britain 5 South Africa 0 (Eastbourne)

1947 South Africa 4 Britain 1


1961 Britain 4 South Africa 1

(Birmingham Priory)

1965 South Africa 3 Britain 2


1969 Britain 3 South Africa 2


Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Flat out: Michael Flatley will return to the stage in his show Lord Of The Dance
Michael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
peoplePamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Data Insight Manager - Marketing

£32000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based o...

Data Centre Engineer - Linux, Redhat, Solaris, SAN, Puppet

£55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A financial software vendor at the forefro...

.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: .NET Developer C#, WPF,BLL, MSMQ, SQL, GIT, SQ...

Data Centre Engineer - Linux / Redhat / Solaris / Puppet / SAN

£65000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A financial software vendor at the forefro...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape