Tim Henman was rarely impressive and only reached top gear in the closing stages, but he still overcame Karim Alami in the first round of the Newsweek Champions Cup here in California on Tuesday night.
The 11th seed grafted rather than powered his way to a 7-5, 6-2 victory in an hour and 24 minutes, and later said he was relieved to have passed the opening test. "That was definitely a good one to get through," said Henman. "He's unpredictable at the best of times and not an easy kind of player to play against."
This was his first match since his defeat by the Australian teenager Lleyton Hewitt in the Scottsdale final on Sunday. In the first Masters Series event of the year, Henman was unable to impose himself on his Moroccan opponent in the early stages. With neither player dominating, a tight first set went with serve until the 11th game. Henman's belligerence earned him his first two break chances of the set, but he only needed one to claim the first - and decisive - break.
The British No 1 wrapped up the set and earned a further break in the third game of the second set. Alami had no answer and his game fell apart. A further break confirmed Henman's dominance.
"I knew the way he liked to play," said the Briton. "One of the things I would say is that you've just got to make him play as many balls as you can, especially on his passing shots.
"The first set was pretty key. If he won it, I'm sure he would have grown in confidence but I was able to get my nose in front and my game picked up.
"His spirit sort of went down a little bit and I wasn't going to start complaining about that."
Henman beat the Moroccan at both the Australian and French Opens last year, as well as in Doha, and excepting his first-round defeat in London, his season has begun in some style with the one worry that his defeat in Scottsdale was his sixth in succession in a Tour final.
Other winners included the Chilean Marcelo Rios - a 7-6, 6-1 victor against Daniel Vacek - and Magnus Norman, who beat Argentina's Franco Squillari 6-3, 6-4.
The fifth-seeded Brazilian Gustavo Kuerten squeezed past the American Justin Gimelstob 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 while Pat Rafter, the US Open champion in 1998, continued his comeback from a shoulder injury with 6-3, 7-6 victory over the South African Marcos Ondruska.
In the women's event, which has entered its second week, Lindsay Davenport advanced to the semi-finals with a straightforward 6-2, 6-1 victory over Conchita Martinez of Spain.
Results from the Tennis Master Series-Indian Wells:
Second seed Davenport, the Wimbledon and Australian Open champion, can reclaim her world number one status from current incumbent Martina Hingis should she carry off the title this week. Hingis faces a tough quarter-final against American Monica Seles tomorrow.
Men Singles First round
Fabrice Santoro (Fr) def. (4) Nicolas Kiefer (Ger) 6-1, 6-4 (5)Gustavo Kuerten (Bra) def. Justin Gimelstob (US) 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 (6) Magnus Norman (Swe) def. Franco Squillari (Arg) 6-3, 6-4 (7) Marcelo Rios (Chile) def. Daniel Vacek (Cz Rep) 7-6 (5), 6-1 (11) Tim Henman (GB) def. Karim Alami (Mor) 7-5, 6-2 (13) Patrick Rafter (Aus) def. Marcos Ondruska (SA) 6-3, 7-6 (7) (16) Lleyton Hewitt (Aus) def. Carlos Moya (Sp) 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 Slava Dosedel (Cz Rep) def. Felix Mantilla (Sp) 6-4, 6-1 Sebastien Grosjean (Fr) def. Jiri Novak (Cz Rep) 6-2, 6-2 Tommy Haas (Ger) def. Cyril Saulnier (Fr) 6-1, 6-7 (4), 7-5 Byron Black (Zim) def. Alberto Martin (Sp) 6-3, 6-2 Arnaud Di Pasquale (Fr) def. Jim Courier (US) 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (5) Dominik Hrbaty (Slovak) def. Younes El Aynaoui (Mor) 7-5, 6-2 (2) Pete Sampras (US) def. Andrei Medvedev (Ukr) 6-4, 6-2. Mariano Zabaleta (Arg) def. Fernando Vicente (Sp) 7-5, 7-6 (2). Michael Chang (US) def. Juan Carlos Ferrero (Sp) 7-5, 6-4. Wayne Ferreira (SA) def. Jan-Michael Gambill (US) 6-4, 6-7 (12), 6-4. (14) Albert Costa (Sp) def. Stefan Koubek (Aus) 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.
Doubles First Round
(2) Jared Palmer and Alex O'Brien (US) def. Donald Johnson and Cyril Suk (Cz Rep) 6-4, 6-4. (5) Wayne Arthurs (Aus) and Leander Paes (Ind) def. Jaime Oncins (Bra) and Daniel Orsanic (Arg), 6-1, 6-3. Thomas Enqvist and Thomas Johansson (Swe) def. Joshua Eagle and Andrew Florent (Aus) 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-2. Patrick Galbraith and Brian MacPhie (US) def. Mark Knowles (Bah) and Max Mirnyi (Bela) 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (1).
Women Singles Quarter-finals
(2) Lindsay Davenport (US) def. (6) Conchita Martinez (Sp) 6-2, 6-1 Elena Dementieva (Rus) def. Chanda Rubin (US) 6-4, 6-1.
Doubles Second Round
(3) Lindsay Davenport and Corina Morariu (US) def. Sabrine Appelmans (Bel) and Rita Grande (It) 6-2, 6-2. (5) Elena Likhovsteva (Rus) and Nathalie Tauziat (Fr) def. Yayuk Basuki (Indon) and Tamarine Tanasugarn (Thai) 7-6 (6), 4-6, 7-6 (4). (8) Conchita Martinez (Sp) and Patricia Tarabin (Arg) def. Catalina Cristea, and Ruxandra Dragomir (Rom) 6-4, 5-7, 6-3. Jennifer Capriati and Monica Seles (US) def. Catherine Barclay (Aus) and Anne-Gaelle Sidot (Fr) 6-2, 6-4. Anna Kournikova (Rus) and Natasha Zvereva (4) (Bela) def. Virginia Ruano Pascual (Sp) and Paola Suarez (Arg) 7-5, 6-3.Reuse content