Tennis: Henman's bit of history

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Tim Henman yesterday became the first British men's singles quarter- finalist since Roger Taylor in 1973 when he defeated Sweden's Magnus Gustafsson 7-6, 6-4, 7-6.

The 21-year-old Henman beat the British weather as rain did its best to interrupt his fourth-round match and disappoint the thousands of fans gunning for a home win. The first set was disturbed by showers three times.

Henman made the perfect start, holding his serve to love in the opening game then breaking Gustafsson on his fifth break point to go 2-0 up. He enjoyed a stroke of luck on that point when he clipped the net with a forehand return and the Swede tried a drop volley which failed to clear the net.

Henman went 3-0 up and games went with service until the Briton was 4- 2 ahead. But then Gustafsson, 25 places above Henman in the world rankings at No 37, went 40-love up on his rival's serve and, although Henman saved two break points, the Swede hit home a forehand service return to break back for 3-4.

Only two more points were played in the following game before rain halted play after 23 minutes. They came back on court after a 39-minute delay and were about to start again when they had to return to the dressing- room.

Just after the start of the third resumption, Gustafsson served to save the set and forced a tie-break with two convincing passes, but Henman was master once the tie-break began. His first service proved a penetrating winner and he repeated the dose to clinch a 7-2 victory in a set which lasted 43 minutes.

Henman collected the second set 6-4 in 31 minutes after Gustafsson had raced to a 3-0 lead. The Briton broke back in the fifth game with a diving forehand volley which brought the strangely subdued crowd alive.

Henman broke again in the ninth game when Gustafsson put a forehand service return into the net and, when the Swede slipped going for a wide forehand in the next, it gave Henman set point. This time, Gustafsson netted a backhand.

There were two service breaks for each player in the third set, which headed into a tie-break with Henman immediately forging into a 4-0 lead.

Gustafsson reduce the deficit to 4-6 when Henman fluffed an easy backhand volley. However, he made no mistake with his next serve, forcing Gustafsson so wide he could only return into the net for Henman to win the tie-break 7-4 and the match in just under two hours.

Comments