Henman a step closer to confrontation with Federer

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The Independent Online

Tim Henman, who won the Paris Masters Series event in October on his last indoor appearance, enjoyed an impressive 7-5, 6-2 victory over Tommy Robredo in the first round of the World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam on Tuesday.

The British No 1 maintained his 100 per cent record against the Spaniard, whom he had beaten on their previous two meetings. The 29-year-old dominated from the outset and Robredo saved four set points before Henman finally tied up the opening set.

The fifth seed cruised through the second set, breaking his opponent twice, and is now scheduled to face the Swedish veteran Jonas Bjorkman in the next round and possibly the world No 1, Roger Federer, in the quarter-finals.

Henman said: "We both served consistently and aggressively, and that is going to be important indoors.

"It was an advantage getting the first set under my belt and then I could put more pressure on him. It was a good start and it gives me something to build on. I have a lot of good memories here and I've played some good tennis. When I reflect 12 months ago it was my first match after having shoulder surgery and I was still not 100 per cent fit physically.

"I still had some doubts mentally and it's amazing what has happened in the last 12 months."

Henman added: "It seems like a long time ago but most importantly I'm feeling fit and healthy and I'm looking forward to a good season."