Henman fury in slanging match with Argentine

There are few more exasperating opponents than David Nalbandian. The Argentine is an obdurate and ruthless scrapper who never gives up and has a way of getting under an opponent's skin quite unlike any other player.

Nalbandian so infuriated Tim Henman at the Madrid Masters here yesterday that the umpire tried to intervene as the two men argued. The British No 2, beaten 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 after serving for the match at 5-4 in the final set, was furious that Nalbandian had called his sportsmanship into question after a disputed line call, while the world No 4 later scoffed at Henman's reputation as a gentleman and called him "the worst rubbish there is".

Henman can berate umpires ­ and did so yesterday during a match littered with poor line calls ­ but it was hard to recall him in such an angry confrontation with an opponent.

Nalbandian was serving at 5-5 and 15-30 in the final set when his first serve was called out. The Argentine asked Henman his opinion and the Briton said he thought the ball was probably in. Nalbandian suggested he should have two more serves, Henman thought otherwise and the umpire, Mohamed Lahyani, refused to overrule the original call. Although Henman went on to win the point, Nalbandian fought back from 15-40 down to win the game. At the subsequent changeover, Lahyani tried in vain to halt a heated debate between the players.

Henman said: "He [Nalbandian] said: 'Well, you didn't give me first serve.' First serve at 5-5, 15-30 when I think your serve was in? I think he's in a dream world. Then he started questioning my sportsmanship." Henman added pointedly: "I think if we're going to go down that road, there's only one winner."

Asked whether his sportsmanship had ever been doubted before, Henman replied: "I think there's a first time for everything."

Nalbandian said: "I asked him [Henman] for the first serve and even though he said it was good he would not give it to me. All this selling himself as a gentleman is not true. He is the worst rubbish there is."

The match was played on the second court here, where there is no video technology. Henman complained of poor bounces and said the surface was " 25 to 30 per cent" slower than the main court.

The chip-and-charge tactics which had worked so well in his previous two matches were not nearly as productive as Nalbandian kept Henman pegged back. Nevertheless the Briton served well, and hit some fine ground strokes.

Henman complained to Lahyani early in the first set about the "desperate " line calling. When he dropped his serve in the fourth game he smashed the ball away in anger before thumping the floor with his racket. He was broken again to love to give Nalbandian the first set after just 29 minutes.

Henman took the second set and broke to love in the fifth game of the final set, only for Nalbandian to save his best till last.

Rafael Nadal had a comfortable win over Tommy Haas, but Andy Roddick, suffering from an ankle injury, lost to Tomas Berdych, while Roger Federer needed the help of video technology to beat Robin Soderling 7-6, 7-6.

The world No 1 made a successful challenge to a line call when Soderling had a point to win the first set and won the final tie-break after correctly challenging his opponent's "winners" on the last two points. Nevertheless, Federer said he would continue to oppose use of the technology.

election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
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

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'