British No 1 still a contender

Tim Henman walked away from Flushing Meadows having lost a semi-final, but having gained such huge respect that I can't help but re-evaluate him. I thought that Tim was winding down his career. I don't mean he was on the verge of retirement, simply that I thought his chances of winning a Grand Slam had dwindled out.

Tim Henman walked away from Flushing Meadows having lost a semi-final, but having gained such huge respect that I can't help but re-evaluate him. I thought that Tim was winding down his career. I don't mean he was on the verge of retirement, simply that I thought his chances of winning a Grand Slam had dwindled out.

During this past fortnight, he's showed that isn't the case. He's playing as good as he's ever played and he's nowhere near the end of his career. That doesn't mean he can be expected to upstage the brilliant younger generation - and I mean the likes of Roger Federer, Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt, all of them Slam winners by their early 20s. It does mean he can keep alive his dream of winning a Slam one day. The odds may not be in his favour because, realistically, he'll have to beat one or more of those younger guys to win any Slam. But odds are there to be defied. Challenges are there to be undertaken. The only question now is the extent of Henman's desire to keep on playing at a genuine contender's level.

To do that he needs to decide how hard he wants to work, physically, and I'm talking about gym work, perhaps as much as three hours every day. The only reason Andre Agassi is still playing at 34 is because he's working harder and longer than ever before in the gym.

The older you get, the more you need to work on lower body movement, dynamic power for the first step towards the ball, agility for sudden movement. Young men have a natural advantage. At 30, Henman is not a young man. The level of his commitment and the passion with which he answers "A lot" to the question "How much do I want this?" will determine whether he can continue the hard, hard work necessary to keep his dream alive.

The technical side of Tim's game is continuing to improve and that's why he's still one of the 10 best players in the world. Sure, he wasn't a match for Federer in Saturday's semi-final, and to be critical I'd say he didn't serve well enough and had minor imperfections elsewhere exploited by Federer's brilliance.

Specifically, when his first volleys weren't spot-on, Federer's passing was impeccable. And from the baseline Henman's forehand wasn't everything it could have been. But, on the plus side, Tim stuck to his game plan of attack, and intelligently mixed up his play, and executed some fine shots and good tennis. And although he went down with his plan, going down to Federer these days is no disgrace at all.

As Henman said afterwards, to really compete with Federer, it would be ideal to be a hybrid player with Roddick's serve, Agassi's returns, Henman's volleys and Hewitt's speed and tenacity. In other words, a player who excels in everything. In other words, a Federer, the only player in the world who excels in every aspect of the game.

Henman will never be Federer. But he can still be a contender.

Suggested Topics
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
Russell Brand has written a book of political analysis called Revolution
peopleFilm star says he is 'not interested in making money anymore'
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites those Star Wars rumours
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
footballAccording to revelations from Sergio Aguero's new biography
News
people'When I see people who look totally different, it brings me back to that time in my life'
News
news
News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

Life and Style
Meow! ... Again, Kim Kardashian goes for a sexy Halloween costume, wrapping her body with a latex catsuit and high heeled knee boots
fashionFrom Heidi Klum to Kim Kardashian
News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

Extras
indybest
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge
booksChristmas comes early for wizard fans
Arts and Entertainment
filmsOculus Rift offers breathtakingly realistic simulation of zero gravity
Life and Style
tech

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.

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker