Henman holds his nerve to wear down Robredo

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The Independent Online

Tim Henman battled against a heavy cold to give his Masters Series campaign a winning start against Tommy Robredo in the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells yesterday.

The ninth seed triumphed 6-2, 6-7, 6-4 to book a second-round tie against the winner of the match between Sjeng Schalken and Nicolas Escude.

Henman, currently fourth in the Champions Race, appeared to have the Spaniard under control before the effects of his cold gradually wore him down under the Californian sun. Even so the British No 1 dug deep into his reserves to clinch the final set with a battling display.

Henman started well by breaking Robredo in the Spaniard's second service game, finishing off with an aggressive forehand pass to take a 3-1 lead before a sparse crowd. Robredo lost his serve in the final game of the opening set as Henman closed out for a 6-2 success.

The next set went with serve before Robredo, who was gradually finding his feet as Henman wilted, broke to go 5-4 up. Henman kept the set alive as Robredo crumbled with the chance to level the match at his fingertips. Both then served out the set to take it into a tie-break.

Robredo wasted two set points before a disputed line call ruled out an ace from Henman. The Spaniard then claimed an important point to win the tie-break 9-7 and take the match into a deciding set.

That went with serve until Henman broke for a 5-4 lead and then kept cool in the next game to win on his first match point.

Andre Agassi collected the 50th ATP title of his career with a victory over Juan Balcells in the Franklin Templeton Classic in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Sunday. The Las Vegan beat the Spaniard 6-2, 7-6.

Agassi became the eighth player in the Open era to clock up his half-century. The 31-year-old joins Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Bjorn Borg, Guillermo Vilas and Ilie Nastase.