Henman clocks up double shift to put Federer in sight

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The Independent Online

Tim Henman put himself on course for another meeting with Roger Federer in the final of the Japan Open, after a hectic day yesterday for the British No 2 in Tokyo.

Henman had to play both a third-round match against the Argentine teenager Juan Martin del Potro and a quarter-final with Mario Ancic, of Croatia, because heavy rain interrupted the schedule. However, he came through both to book a last-four encounter against South Korea's Hyung-Taik Lee - with Federer and unseeded German Benjamin Becker set to play in today's other semi-final.

Ancic, the No3 seed, looked a likely stumbling block for Henman in a game which did not get under way until after 10pm local time. But the big-serving Croat was never in a position to dominate as he fell away to a straight-sets defeat against an in-form opponent rated seven places below him in the tournament. An early break allowed Henman to take the first set 6-2 and it was the same story second time round.

Against Del Potro, Henman overcame a poor start to win 7-6, 6-3. The 18-year-old raced into a 4-1 lead in the opening set. However, Henman forced a tie-break, which he took 7-3 and he carried on his momentum into the second set, breaking immediately and wrapping up victory. "I'm not usually at my best first thing in the morning," Henman said, "and 9am is pretty early to be out on the match court, so I'm pleased I won under the circumstances."

Federer won his quarter-final but not without a couple of scares. The world No1 had a sleepless night after a disturbing nightmare and then had to come back from a set down to beat Japan's Takao Suzuki, No1,078 in the world, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6.

"I jumped out of bed and stood up screaming in a state of shock," Federer said of his nightmare. "I ran and hit the corner of the bed and I have a big bruise now on my leg. It was a pretty scary moment."

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