No wonder John Lloyd wants to tempt Tim Henman out of Davis Cup retirement. The British captain, who learned yesterday that the Netherlands will be his next opponents, thinks Henman can still play a major role, a belief that was underlined as the 32-year-old continued to get the better of his fellow countrymen in the Thailand Open in Bangkok.
Henman followed up his victory over Andy Murray by beating another Briton, Alex Bogdanovic, 6-3, 5-7, 6-1. Today he will face the local favourite, Paradorn Srichaphan, the world No 41, in the quarter-finals.
At No 59 in the world Henman is now the British No 2, but in the space of a month he has beaten the No 1, Murray, the No 3, Greg Rusedski, and now the No 4, Bogdanovic. Nevertheless Bogdanovic, playing an attacking game, caused plenty of problems in a match lasting two and a quarter hours.
Henman served out for the first set after breaking in the eighth game, but it was Bogdanovic who made the first move in the second. The 22-year-old led 4-2, let Henman back in at 4-4 but broke again at 5-5. Bogdanovic's backhand return was paying dividends, but Henman resumed control from 1-1 in the third set, winning the last five games.
"I said after my first win that my intention was to go as deep into the tournament as possible and that's still the aim," Henman said. " I'll be looking to raise my game from here on in."
Henman has told Lloyd that he might reconsider his Davis Cup decision next year. The new captain, encouraged by last weekend's victory over Ukraine, is in upbeat mood and is aiming to win a place back in the World Group for 2008.
Next year's draw certainly helped his cause. Britain were given a bye in the first round and a home tie against the Netherlands in the second. Britain won both their previous meetings, the last of them 46 years ago. The match will be played indoors from 6 to 8 April at a venue to be decided. "I'm very happy with the draw," Lloyd said. "Playing in front of a home crowd will be a huge boost."
Finding a good doubles pairing is one of Lloyd's main tasks and he will have been encouraged by some other news from Bangkok yesterday. Andy and Jamie Murray won again, beating Marat Safin and Feliciano Lopez for the loss of only three games to earn a place in the semi-finals.
In the singles, the third seed, James Blake of the United States, breezed through to the final eight with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Monaco's Benjamin Balleret yesterday. Marat Safin had to battle his way into the next round for a second day running beating the Frenchman Julien Benneteau, 7-6, 6-7, 6-2 and the seventh seed Robby Ginepri, of the United States, served 14 aces in his defeat of Thailand's Danai Udomchoke, 6-3, 6-3.
In India, Britain's James Auckland continued his run at the Mumbai Open with a battling win over eighth seed Wesley Moodie. Auckland, 26, saw off the South African in two tie-breaks 7-6, 7-6 to reach the quarter-finals, where he plays Russian Dmitry Tursunov.Reuse content