Henman in fine form to vanquish Verkerk

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The Independent Online

Tim Henman had little trouble dispatching the seventh-seeded Dutchman, Martin Verkerk, 6-2, 6-3, in the opening round of the Swiss Indoor tournament last night.

Making his seventh consecutive appearance at a tournament he has won twice, Henman is particularly comfortable here where he has a 23-4 won-lost record and has never lost before the quarterfinals. He won the title in 1998 and 2001, and reached the final in 1999 but finished as runner-up to Karol Kucera.

"I've had a lot of success here and that's given me confidence coming here," said Henman, the former world No 4 who has dropped to 32 in the ATP entry rankings because of a nagging shoulder injury this season. "It is also great for my confidence to beat a player like Verkerk, who is in the top 20 and to beat him so comfortably."

Still without a coach, Henman is looking to break back into the top 20 by the end of the season. It is an ambitious goal for the British No 1, who has been suffering from a cold, with only one more tournament after this one, the Tennis Masters Paris. Henman will next face the Czech lucky loser Tomas Zib, who disappointed Swiss fans by overcoming the junior French Open champion, Stanislas Wawrinka 7-6 , 7-6.

Earlier, Switzerland's Wimbledon champion and the No 2 seed here, Roger Federer, began his campaign for a first title on home carpet with an easy 6-1, 6-3 victory over his compatriot, Marc Rosset.

Jiri Novak overcame an early scare to move into the second round with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-0, win over the British qualifier Arvind Parmar. The fifth seed was clearly outplayed by the Briton in the opening set but recovered to claim victory despite failing to find his best form.