Tennis: Setback for Henman

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The Independent Online

Tim Henman, the British No 1 last night, vowed to return to the practice courts immediately following his second early exit from a tournament in successive weeks.

The world No 17 slumped 6-4, 6-3 to the Netherlands' Sjeng Schalken in the first round of the Raiffeisen Grand Prix in St Polten, Austria, less than a week after being beaten in the Italian Open second round by an Italian qualifier, Davide Scala.

"I think in the next five or six days it will be pretty important to put in some practice time," said Henman, who was the fourth seed in St Polten.

"I don't think I spent enough time on the practice court after my operation. That's something I need to do after missing about six weeks of the tour. That's a lot of practice time.

"Hopefully when I get to Paris, I will be able to spend a few hours each day trying to regain my confidence."

Henman has been seeded 15th for the French Open, where seedings are based on the ATP rankings, after Boris Becker and Todd Martin withdrew.

Henman rose one place in the rankings issued yesterday because the Ukrainian Andrei Medvedev lost points after his first-round exit in Rome, slipping below Henman - from 17 to 20.

Greg Rusedski, the British No 2, beaten 6-4, 6-4 by Tomas Nydahl of Sweden in the final qualifying round at St Polten yesterday, has dropped two places to No 41 in the rankings.

Rusedski should have been in the main draw, but failed to enter in time and had to play in the qualifying competition.

There were no official reasons for Becker's withdrawal from the French Open, but the 29-year-old's season has been hampered by a wrist injury which allowed him to play in only two tournaments in the past three months: in Monte Carlo and Hamburg.