Tennis: Henman's lacklustre ending to campaign

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The Independent Online
TIM HENMAN'S season ended in a dismal defeat to the American Jan- Michael Gambill in the second round of the Stockholm Open. The British No 1 lost 7-5, 6-3 and his chances of playing in the ATP Tour World Championship in Hanover now look to have evaporated completely, as he is down to fourth reserve for the eight-man tournament later this month.

Yesterday's match started brightly for Henman, ranked No 10 in the world, and a break in the third game looked likely to be enough to clinch the first set. However, he was unable to close out when serving at 5-4 and Gambill won six consecutive games to reach 7-5, 3-0 before Henman managed to put a game on the scoreboard in the second set.

Henman, the second seed here, found the target with only 49 per cent of his first serves and produced only six aces. Henman, without a win in his two previous encounters with Gambill, who is ranked No 71 in the world, looked tired and was unable to cope with the 22-year-old's unexceptional game.

Gambill completed victory on his own serve as Henman put a straightforward return into the net. Henman said: "There is not much to say, is there? I am disappointed. I'll just try to leave this behind me and look forward to next season."

All four seeds in early action on day two of the National Tennis Championships at Telford secured quarter-final places without dropping a set. The top seed, Berkshire's Jamie Delgado, recovered from a couple of early breaks against him in the first set to win through 6-3, 6-4 in 81 minutes. He was quickly joined by Lancashire's Barry Cowan, the fourth seed, who easily found the measure of James Nelson, Northumberland's leading junior, to cruise through in 51 minutes, winning 6-3, 6-0.

Louise Latimer of Warwickshire, the favourite for the ladies' title, was tested over 88 minutes by the Essex player Helen Crook. She just failed to force the match into a third set decider when the top seed strung together four consecutive games to go from 2-5 down in the second set, triumphing 6-3, 7-5.

Lucy Ahl, the third seed from Devon, who is on course to meet Latimer in the semi-finals, had a comfortable 6-3, 6-3 victory over Jheni Osman, a qualifier from Sussex.

In Philadelphia, Anna Kournikova, still struggling since her return to the women's tour after a foot injury, was upset on Tuesday in the first round of the Advanta Championships.

Kournikova, the eighth seed, fell to Justine Henin of Belgium, ranked No 70 in the world, 7-6, 6-4. The Russian has won three and lost three matches since returning from the stress fracture in her foot which caused her to miss two months of competition.

Elsewhere, Guy Forget kept faith with his tried and trusted players when he named a provisional French squad for the Davis Cup final against Australia in Nice next month. The captain will announce the final four-man line- up on 24 November during a training camp in Hendaye, south-west France.

Cedric Pioline, the French No 1, Sebastien Grosjean, Fabrice Santoro and Olivier Delaitre, the quartet who guided France to the final, are among the six. The others are Nicolas Escude and Arnaud Di Pasquale. The final will be played on clay on 3-5 December.

Results, Digest, page 31