Henman beats Chang for semi spot

Tim Henman scored a major confidence boost by beating Michael Chang in the quarter-finals of the Salem Open in Hong Kong.

Tim Henman scored a major confidence boost by beating Michael Chang in the quarter-finals of the Salem Open in Hong Kong.

Henman, who suffered a first round Olympic exit, outfought Chang 6-4 4-6 6-4 in the longest game of the tournament.

It took him nearly two-and-a-half hours to defeat Chang, a three-time champion.

British number one was at times frustrated by his opponent's determined play and was given a ball abuse warning at the end of the second set.

He admitted he had put in an inconsistent performance, but claimed he had not been helped by the lights at Victoria Park.

Second seed Henman said: "The standard was up and down.

"I had some problems with various aspects of my game and some problems with the lights. There are definitely some dark patches out on that court."

Henman, who served nine aces but seven double-faults in two hours, 27 minutes, conceded: "I kept creating opportunities, getting in front with a break and then failing to capitalise."

A frustrated Henman got a ball abuse warning at the end of the second set, and said that overcoming crowd favourite Chang had taken a lot of effort.

"He's a great player who knows how to win here, he's done it three times. I knew I couldn't beat him in rallies from the baseline. If you are not into your shots, the ball can fly on you and you can make unforced errors."

Henman now faces German third seed Nicolas Kiefer, who overcame Nicolas Lapentti of Ecuador 6-2 6-4, for a place in the final in his debut at the tournament.

Chang, the darling of Asian fans, took the trophy in 1994, 1995 and 1997.

Henman moved off to a quick start with a break for 2-1 but Chang fought back to level at 3-3.

The American's effort started a run of trouble for the Briton, who proceeded to be weighed down by break points. Henman saved two in the eighth game and broke the crowd favourite for 5-4.

A service winner from Henman in the next game gave him the opening set after 45 minutes.

The first four games of the second set went against serve before Chang finally held for 3-2.

Second seed Henman had to labour to save a trio of break points for 3-3, and faced more pressure after Chang made it 5-4 from a love game.

Henman's next service game was a marathon with him having to salvage three set points as Chang kept pressing.

Henman sent an overhead smash long to give the American a fourth set-winning chance and the eighth seed took full advantage from an unforced error from the Briton, whose sharpness of the previous set was barely in evidence.

Henman got a break to start the third, but was again caught by Chang for 2-2. He broke again in the next game before the match went with serve until the conclusion.

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