Henman lacks killer punch

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The Independent Online

Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski were both left to rue missed opportunities after bowing out of the Newsweek Champions Cup, the first Masters Series event of the season, here on Wednesday night.

Henman failed to follow up his good showing in Arizona last week, where he was runner-up to Lleyton Hewitt, when he was beaten 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 by the Frenchman Sebastien Grosjean. Rusedski paid the price for a couple of slack service games as the Belarussian Max Mirnyi beat him 6-4, 6-4.

Henman battled back from 5-3 down in the third set to reach 5-5, but could not find the killer punch to finish off Grosjean.

"It was a big struggle," Henman said. "I gave myself another chance getting back on level terms. I just wanted desperately to get through that match."

The second seed, Pete Sampras, advanced with a 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 second-round victory over Wayne Ferreira of South Africa. The American was not at his best, however, dropping the first set and failing to serve out the second after leading 5-4.

Sampras eventually won on his second match point in the third-set tie-break when Ferreira lost concentration and smacked a forehand wide.

Unlike Sampras, a number of seeded players faded away in the second round, leaving only six of the original 16 remaining.

Sampras now meets Byron Black, of Zimbabwe, who has never beaten him in four career matches. Black beat the 16th seed, Lleyton Hewitt, 6-3, 7-6 in the second round.

In his third week back on tour after shoulder surgery had kept him out of action for six months, the 13th-seeded Patrick Rafter fought valiantly, but lost to Alex Corretja, of Spain, 7-6, 5-7, 6-2. The No 3 seed, Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia, was the victim of a 7-5, 6-2 upset at the hands of the Dutchman Sjeng Schalken.

The seventh-seeded Marcelo Rios of Chile, the 1998 champion, was beaten by Mariano Zabaleta of Argentina 7-6, 6-3.

In one of the worst losses of her young but spectacular career, the defending women's champion, Serena Williams, was crushed 6-2, 6-1 by Mary Pierce in the quarter-finals.

Williams was so upset that she broke down in tears before her press conference. "Everything she hit was either on the line or a winner," said Williams.

Pierce now faces the top-seeded Martina Hingis. The Swiss world No 1 made quick work of the seventh seed, Monica Seles, 6-3, 6-1.