Henman encouraged despite defeat to Nadal
Friday 03 March 2006
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.
Arsenal transfer latest: Gunners close in on move for QPR and France striker Loic Remy - reports
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014: In defence of Mesut Ozil - the Arsenal midfielder works magic in the shadows
Brazil vs Germany match report World Cup 2014: Utter humiliation for hosts as Thomas Muller and Toni Kroos help Germany hit seven past Selecao
Pornhub pleads with users to stop uploading videos of Brazil 'getting f**ked by Germany' in the World Cup
Netherlands vs Argentina match report World Cup 2014: Sergio Romero the penalty hero breaks Dutch hearts
- 1 Howard Jacobson: Let’s see the 'criticism' of Israel for what it really is
- 2 Gingers face extinction due to climate change, scientists warn
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
British jihadist calls for 'flag of Islam' over Downing Street and Buckingham Palace
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories