Fallible Henman falters at first

BRITAIN LOST Tim Henman in the first round at the United States Open yesterday before you could say straight sets, but the loudest groaning and wailing came from the Americans, particularly the organisers, with the announcement that Pete Sampras had withdrawn because of a herniated disc in his back.

BRITAIN LOST Tim Henman in the first round at the United States Open yesterday before you could say straight sets, but the loudest groaning and wailing came from the Americans, particularly the organisers, with the announcement that Pete Sampras had withdrawn because of a herniated disc in his back.

Gone is the prospect of a Sampras-Andre Agassi finale. Gone, at least for the moment, is the possibility of Sampras winning a record 13th Grand Slam singles title on home ground.

In that context, the elimination of Henman, the No 6 seed, by Guillermo Canas, a little known Argentinian, 7-6, 6-4, 6-3, barely rated a second glance at the scoreboard, unless the observer happened to have come from the other side of the Atlantic, in which case, there was cause for groaning and wailing.

Henman, last remembered walking off the Centre Court at Wimbledon after losing to Sampras in the semi-finals, was unrecognisable as a contender for Grand Slam titles yesterday. The British No 1 was out-thought and outplayed by Canas, a 21-year-old from Buenos Aires, ranked No 68 in the world, who is unlikely to rise to the heights of his country-man, the great Guillermo Vilas, but is capable of tripping up more unsuspecting opponents like Henman.

It was not as if Henman lacked personal experience of Canas. He defeated the Argentinian in the second round of the Canadian Open on a similar concrete court in Montreal last year, having lost the opening set. In common with most Latin Americans, Canas builds his strategy from the baseline with heavy top-spin.

This proved so successful yesterday that, after a tentative start, Canas developed the confidence to punish Henman with lobs as well as passing shots and some nifty play at the net, helped by the Briton's 52 unforced errors, chiefly on the forehand.

The last time Henman lost in the first round of a Grand Slam was at the 1998 French Open, where a back injury caused him to retire when trailing the Armenian Sargis Sargsian, 2-5, in the opening set. Earlier that year, Henman was defeated in the first round of the Australian Open by the Frenchman Jerome Golmard, 11-9 in the fifth set.

This is the first time Henman has lost his opening match at the US Open, where he advanced to the last 16 in 1996 and 1998. Seeded to meet the Dutchman Richard Krajicek in the fourth round, Russia's Yevgeny Kafelnikov in the quarter-finals and possibly Agassi in the semi-final, Henman's form eliminated the prospect of further engagements.

Five double-faults prevented him from making the most of Canas's nerves in the first set, in which there were four breaks of serve, and five forehand errors cost him the tie-break, 7-1. A netted backhand put Henman 0-2 down in the second set. Even though Canas "choked" when serving at 5-3, he was alert to Henman's fallibility in the next game. Henman has never come back from two sets down, and the faintest hope of his doing so here disappeared after he failed to hold on to a break at the start of the third set.

Sampras, who had recovered from a strained hip muscle, which prompted him to take the precaution of winding down his tournament preparation prior to arriving at Flushing Meadow, had a back spasm while practising with the Brazilian Gustavo Kuerten last Sunday.

Granted his request for a Wednesday start, Sampras did not practice on Monday, trusting that the condition would ease before he was due to play Marat Safin, the talented Russian who won his first ATP Tour event in Boston on Sunday, defeating Britain's Greg Rusedski in the final. "The last 48 hours, I've been struggling to get round my hotel room," Sampras said.

Martina Hingis enjoyed her opening round match against her Czech opponent, Kveta Hrdlickova, whom she beat 6-1, 7-5. "If she played like that all the time, she could be better than she's ranked," Hingis said after fending off the world No 74.

Hingis says she has also changed her point of view in other ways since losing her temper during the French Open final, and losing her first round match at Wimbledon.

"I learned a lot from those two tournaments," Hingis said. "I think you can learn more from disappointment than just by winning. Winning comes naturally. I'm used to that. But if you lose something, you expect yourself to do better and try to improve."

Petr Korda, the former Australian Open champion, has been banned for one year after he lost an arbitration ruling yesterday and was ordered to forfeit all prize since July 1998 for testing positive for the steroid nandrolone at Wimbledon last year.

The ATP Tour event at Battersea Park in February will be switched to the London Arena in Docklands and change its name from the Guardian Direct Cup to the Axa Cup.

BUY WIMBLEDON TICKETS

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.

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map