Henman encouraged despite defeat to Nadal

He may have failed to repeat his heroics of the night before but Tim Henman was still looking on the bright side after his quarter-final defeat by Rafael Nadal in the Dubai Duty Free Open here yesterday.

Henman lost 7-6, 6-1 in his first meeting with the world No 2 but he has halted the slide in his rankings, boosted his bank balance and, most importantly, played well in three matches against high-quality opponents without suffering a recurrence of the back problems which have threatened his career. He will return to No 2 in the British rankings next week, ahead of Greg Rusedski, and will be just one point behind Andy Murray, who replaced him this week as No 1.

Nadal has had his own health worries and is playing only his second tournament following a three-month absence with a foot injury. He is improving with every match, however, and if he beats Rainer Schüttler in the semi-finals today he should set up a fascinating final tomorrow against Roger Federer. The world No 1 beat the Czech Robin Vik 6-3, 6-2 in less than an hour yesterday to earn a semi-final against Russia's Mikhail Youzhny.

For three-quarters of yesterday's match there was little to choose between Nadal and Henman, who had made an excellent comeback from 5-2 down in the final set to beat Radek Stepanek the previous evening. The Briton continued to serve well, having made a slight alteration to his action to combat his back problem, attacked the net and denied Nadal any rhythm with his sweeping ground strokes.

Having wasted the five break points he had early in the first set, Henman saved four set points at 5-3 and broke back in the following game, only to be comprehensively outplayed in the tie-break, which Nadal won 7-1. Henman still had his chances, but from 1-1 in the second set, with Nadal 40-0 down on his serve, the Spaniard won 13 points in a row to take a decisive grip on the match. He said afterwards that he was delighted to have beaten a player he regards as "one of the best in the world".

Henman said that he took encouragement from the way he had dictated play in the early stages, but regretted his missed chances.

"I feel frustrated with the outcome and somewhat disappointed with my performance, but in the context of playing a guy ranked No 2 in the world it's obviously a good sign that I'm actually feeling that way about my game," he said. "It's been a very positive week. My back has been excellent. I've just got to keep building and building from now."

* Bjorn Borg is selling his five Wimbledon trophies and the rackets with which he beat Ilie Nastase in the 1976 final and John McEnroe in 1980. They will be sold at Bonhams in London in June and are expected to raise around £300,000.

News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Parker says: 'I once had a taster use the phrase 'smells like the sex glands of a lemming'. Who in the world can relate to that?'
food + drinkRobert Parker's 100-point scale is a benchmark of achievement for wine-makers everywhere
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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.

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing