Back injury threatens Henman's progress

Debbie Kleinman got her hands on Tim Henman's body again yesterday, with the full approval of the British No 1's wife, Lucy. The chiropractor's kneading fingers could make the difference between progress or defeat for Henman at the US Open here today.

Henman, due to mark his 30th birthday next Monday, is less concerned with his advancing years than the immediate problem of a lower back injury that threatens his prospects of gaining a place in the last 16.

He is in good hands. Kleinman, who has eased pain for those such as Ivan Lendl and Steffi Graf, has worked on Henman's back since last weekend, when he doubted if he would be fit to start the tournament. Henman believes the injury is related to spending too much time playing golf after Wimbledon.

Henman, the fifth seed, today plays Michal Tabara, a Czech qualifer, who had treatment to his lower back en route to a second round win against Mardy Fish, America's Olympic Games silver medallist, after five sets. Henman won his two previous matches against Tabara, ranked 149 in the world, but they have not met since 2001.

Before Tabara arrived at Flushing Meadows for the qualifying event, he had not competed on concrete courts since losing to Britain's Alex Bodanovic in the second round of a Challenger tournament in Sarajavo in March. The US Open is only Tabara's third Tour-level event of the year.

That would suggest Henman is favourite to reach the fourth round here for the third time in his career. Aside from the respective concerns about aching backs, however, the 25-year-old Czech has built his confidence by winning three qualifying matches and overcoming Max Mirnyi, ranked 65, and Fish, ranked 28, in the main draw.

"I'm still not 100 per cent," Henman said after defeating Jerome Golmard of France in the second round. "I didn't really feel I was able to bend and push off for certain shots. If there are low volleys, whereas before I'd be very keen to take the ball out of the air, at the moment I'll take a half volley, because I don't have to get down so low.

"Sometimes, when I've got to change direction quickly, I'm a bit stiff, but also I'm a bit afraid mentally as well. I'd like to think that I'm going to have a good practice and try and hit some of those shots to free up myself, physically and mentally."

Henman's finest performance at a Grand Slam championship outside Wimbledon was his advance to the French Open semi-finals in June, in spite of a viral infection. The malady enabled him to play without feeling undue pressure to get results. Likewise, his most impressive victory, winning the Madrid Masters last October, came when he thought he was merely winding down a season beset by injury.

"That's still something I'm trying to grasp," Henman said, "the fact that trying harder is not necessarily trying better. There are times when I've wanted to win too much. My focus has been on winning and losing, whereas I'm getting better about just having a purpose of what I'm trying to do out there in the matches.

"It is sort of highlighted when I go on the court and I'm unsure about whether I'm going to be able to finish the match or whether I'm going to start the match. All of a sudden, there's not even the slightest bit of concern about winning or losing, because I'm just thinking, 'well, am I physically fit to play?'"

"That's an interesting perspective to have. When I'm on the court in that frame of mind, I'm pretty relaxed, I'm playing well."

He added: "I still question my demeanour on the court at Wimbledon. I'm still a little bit unsure. In the early rounds, I was trying to be very relaxed. It was just a struggle. Then I'm trying to show a bit more emotion and get a bit more fired up. But that's not really the way I'm playing my best tennis. I don't know the answer to it. It's something I need to keep working at."

It was suggested that he might try letting the mood come naturally. "That's in an ideal world," Henman said. "Given the scenario and the situation at Wimbledon, that's easier said than done." Henman said he had not seen Tabara play much recently. "He's one these Czech guys who's very solid from the baseline and a good mover, not altogether dissimilar to Novak." Jiri Novak eliminated Henman in straight sets in the first round at the Olympics.

The biggest stir that the 5ft 9in Tabara has caused at a Grand Slam was here in 2001 when he spat in the direction of his opponent, Justin Gimelstob, after losing to the American in five sets. Tabara was upset because the 6ft 5in Gimelstob had called the trainer three times to treat blisters. "Unless he grows about another foot by the time I get back to the locker room," Gimelstob said, "he's in trouble."

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on Scotland's oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
News
news

PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
footballThe latest scores and Twitter updates from tonight’s games, featuring Bayern Munich vs Man City and Chelsea vs Schalke
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
News
i100
News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's starring part
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur
film

It scooped up an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards when it was first remade in 1959

Extras
10 best table lamps
indybest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week