Henman is scuttled by Youzhny's guile

It was difficult for Tim Henman to be overly disappointed after losing his Paris Masters title yesterday. After all, he still has two major events to look forward to in the next few weeks: the Masters Cup in Houston, and the birth of his second child.

The fact remains, however, that Henman will be the only member of the eight-man field in Houston not to have won a championship this season.

Although the British No 1 has achieved his best results this year when able to play with less expectation, as when advancing to the semi-finals at both the French Open and the US Open, he was unable to sustain an edge to his game here.

This was due in part to the knowledge that the absence of Andre Agassi and David Nalbandian in Paris had guaranteed his Masters Cup qualification without hitting a ball. The other factor was the talent of Mikhail Youzhny, his third-round opponent.

The 22-year-old Russian, whose 7-5, 6-1 win secured a year-end finish inside the world top 20 for the first time in his career, extended the run of form that brought him the Basle title last Sunday and took him to the final in Beijing in September.

Youzhny will always be remembered for his heroics on the Centre Court here in the Palais Omnisports de Bercy in 2002. The Muscovite won the Davis Cup for Russia by becoming the first player in the competition's history to recover from two sets to love down to win the fifth and deciding rubber in a final.

His flexible back-court style and potent returns can be a problem, particularly for attacking players. It took Youzhny five games yesterday to get the measure of Henman's serve in what was their first meeting. He then broke five times in a row.

The only time Henman was in a position to dictate was when Youzhny served at 4-5, 0-30 in the opening set. The Russian's response was audacious. He aced Henman with a serve that skidded off the line and followed up with another unreturnable delivery. After that, Henman was scuttled. The only game he salvaged was a break at 0-3 in the second set.

"He played some great tennis," Henman said. "I'm not going to be positive about losing, but the opportunity to have a few days off now and clear my thoughts and try and give it one good last crack in Houston is great." Henman admitted he had lacked the sparkle of his opening match against Paradorn Srichaphan, of Thailand, on Tuesday. "I'm a bit sluggish," he said. "There's absolutely nothing wrong with the way I'm hitting the ball. Physically, I'm not injured. I'm not sick. I just need to get the sharpness back."

So a tournament shorn of Agassi before it started lost the defending champion, and Henman was soon followed out of Bercy by Andy Roddick. The American top seed fell, 7-6, 6-2, to the net-rushing Max Mirnyi, of Belarus.

Lleyton Hewitt advanced to the quarter-finals when Nicolas Massu, of Chile, retired at 3-4 in the opening set because of a hernia.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
PROMOTED VIDEO
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'