Henman faces tough US Open draw

Having rested a back injury, the 12th-seeded Henman will next week go into the year's last Grand Slam championship with an opening round contest against Fernando Verdasco, of Spain, with the possibility of meeting Paul-Henri Matthieu, of France, in round two,

If Henman negotiates his way into the third round, the Croatian Mario Ancic, who eliminated him in the Wimbledon quarter-finals last year, may be waiting.

The fifth-seeded Marat Safin, of Russia, or the big-serving Max Mirnyi, of Belarus, look likely in the fourth round. If Henman is still standing, his nemesis Lleyton Hewitt, who has beaten him eight times in a row, could be his opponent in the quarter-finals.

But at least Henman will be making a fresh start by playing Verdasco for the first time. The Spanish world No 48 was a finalist in Kitzbühel early in the month. Greg Rusedski, the British No 2, a finalist at the US Open in 1997, has done well enough recently to be seeded No 28.

His first challenge next week is an opening match against the American James Blake, who has had to rely on a wild card to compete.

Lleyton Hewitt, of Australia, Andy Roddick, of the United States, and the Russian Marat Safin complete the top five seeds. Andre Agassi is seeded seventh.

The women's world No 1 and top seed, Maria Sharapova, faces a tough first-round match against Eleni Daniilidou, of Greece.

Arvind Parmar has progressed to the second round of qualification for Flushing Meadows after beating Adam Chadaj. Parmar beat his Polish opponent, 6-3, 6-0, although three other Britons will not be at Flushing Meadows after defeats.

David Sherwood lost to the Croatian Sasa Tuksar, 3-6, 7-6, 6-1, Jamie Delgado went down, 6-3, 6-3, to Yeu-Tzuoo Wang, of Taiwan, and Alex Bogdanovic lost in straight sets, 6-4, 7-6, to Amer Delic. Andy Murray was due to play a qualification match last night.

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