Dark days continue as Henman fails to lighten his mood

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You would be wary of facing the bombshells launched from Dmitry Tursunov's racket even in broad daylight and when Tim Henman complained about the dark skies here last night he was probably calling for physical protection rather than one of the tournament supervisors. Instead he got Soeren Freimel, who walked on to Court Two and ruled that the show must go on.

By the time play was called to a halt at 9.06pm Henman was trailing 6-3, 6-2 in his second-round match in the French Open. Ironically enough the skies had cleared by that stage and Henman pointed out to Freimel that the light was better than it had been when the supervisor made his earlier ruling after the third game of the second set. Indeed Venus Williams completed her victory over Emma Laine on a nearby court nearly three-quarters of an hour after Henman and Tursunov walked off court.

Nevertheless the British No 3 must have been cursing his luck when Francesca Schiavone raced to victory over Martina Muller in just over an hour in the preceding match on Court Two.

The first contest of a rain-interrupted day had seen Germany's Nicolas Kiefer complete a five-set victory over France's Marc Gicquel just after 6pm, more than seven hours after the match had started.

Court Two, with high trees at one end and the towering stands of Philippe Chatrier Court at the other, can be darker than most and from the start of Henman's match the scoreboard lights were shining through the gloom.

The Briton showed a positive approach, chipping and charging Tursunov's very first serve to hit a smart volley winner, but the early promise quickly faded. The Russian, who knocked Henman out of Wimbledon last year and this year's Australian Open, won the first three games and served out to take the first set.

Tursunov hits the ball with ferocious power and was merciless with some of his returns of serve. Henman, seemingly frustrated by both the conditions and his own mistakes, received an official warning for swearing. After being broken in the first game of the second set he broke back to level at 2-2, converting his seventh break point of the game, but the Russian won the next four games to go two sets up.

Andy Murray also had to hang around for most of the day, though at least he was told early in the evening that his doubles match with his fellow Briton, James Auckland, against Australians Ashley Fisher and Jordan Kerr would be held over. It will also give Murray more time to recover from the back problem he suffered on Tuesday during his singles defeat to Gaël Monfils.

There was no truth in the rumours they were serving mulled wine rather than chilled Chablis in the restaurants but there would probably have been plenty of takers. For the second day in succession the temperature barely crept above 10 degrees and the rain showers had the players dashing in and out of the courts like serial shoplifters.

The weather also meant that those seeking another look at the fetching pink dress which Maria Sharapova had worn for the first time on Sunday were disappointed. The Russian, playing in a long-sleeved warm-up top reported an improvement to the injured ankle that had troubled her in the first round and beat Iveta Benesova 6-4, 6-1.

Roger Federer was relieved that he needed less than 90 minutes to dispose of Colombia's Alejandro Falla in straight sets, although they spent just as long off the court during two rain breaks. "It's not easy coming on and off," the world No 1 said. Amélie Mauresmo took 13 minutes longer to play two sets against Russia's Vera Dushevina, the No 1 seed winning 6-1, 7-6.

Brits in Paris

Tim Henman

First round: beat Kenneth Carlsen (Den) 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 on Sunday.

Second round: v Dmitri Tursunov (Rus), trailing two sets to love - resumes today.

Third round: v David Nalbandian (Arg) or Richard Gasquet (Fr).

Andy Murray

First round: Britain's No 2, hampered by a back injury, lost to Gaël Monfils (Fr) 6-4, 6-7, 1-6, 6-2, 6-1.

Greg Rusedski

First round: lost to Paul Capdeville (Chile) 3-6, 1-6, 6-4, 6-7.

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