Henman plays the strong man in revenge victory over Vicente

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The Independent Online

Tim Henman made an impressive start to his campaign at the United States Open yesterday with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 win against Fernando Vicente, of Spain, who defeated the British No 1 in five sets in their only previous match, at the French Open in June.

Tim Henman made an impressive start to his campaign at the United States Open yesterday with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 win against Fernando Vicente, of Spain, who defeated the British No 1 in five sets in their only previous match, at the French Open in June.

Henman not only prefers the medium-pace rubberised concrete courts here to the slow clay at Roland Garros, but he also is stronger in both body and mind than when they met in Paris.

Continuing to show the confident form he displayed on American courts during the lead-up to New York, Henman won the first three games of the match and broke back immediately after Vicente recovered to 3-2. Henman dominated as emphatically as the score suggests, finishing the match by breaking to love.

"I played a solid match and volleyed really well," Henman said. "I employed similar tactics in our last match, but on clay you're slipping and sliding all over the place. Here you get a sure footing. I've seen Vicente play a little bit this summer when people have given him time, and that's when he's dangerous. He doesn't like to be rushed."

In the second round, Henman will play Fernando Gonzalez, a 20-year-old qualifier from Chile, placed No 93 in the Champions Race, who defeated the American Cecil Mamiit, 6-3, 6-4, 6-1.

"I had a chat with Tom Gullikson [the former US Davis Cup captain], who has watched Gonzalez play in two of his matches," Henman said. "He's not somebody to take lightly. I think he has a similar style of game [to Vicente] - big forehand, likes to have a lot of time. I have to employ similar tactics."

Jamie Delgado was the first of Britain's string quartet to appear on court, although the 23-year-old from Warwickshire's performance against Germany's Tommy Haas could hardly be described as a recital.

Qualifying for his debut in the main draw at Flushing Meadow may have been encouraging for Delgado but, as with the Australian Open, where he was defeated in straight sets by the Swiss Marc Rosset, Delgado was unable to withstand the weight of shot of an opponent who spends his working life on the mainstream ATP Tour.

Haas won 6-3, 6-1, 6-1, after 71 minutes. "He looked as if he had time and was in control," Delgado said, acknowledging the difference between them.

Coached by Nick Bollettieri since 1989, Haas been accused in Germany of not showing as much commitment as his illustrious predecessors, Boris Becker and Michael Stich. None the less, Haas advanced, unseeded, to the semi-finals at the 1999 Australian Open and reached the last 16 at the US Open last year.

Placed No 38 in the ATP entry system and No 40 in the Champions Race, Haas was yesterday playing his first match since a back injury caused him to retire against Rainer Schuttler on 20 July.

Delgado, No 216 in the entry system, worked his way through qualifying matches last week against Etlis Gaston, of Argentina, Adrian Garcia, of Chile, and Takao Suzuki, of Japan, a welcome run of consistency, having recovered from injury.

The British No 4 made his way to a crowded Court 10, situated near the main entrance to the grounds and with a view of the Worlds Fair Globe from one end of the court and the Arthur Ashe Stadium at the other.

Any signs of rustiness in Haas's game disappeared once he found his range. Delgado managed to save four break points to hold serve for 3-3 in the opening set - only for Haas to win the next seven games. The German was leading 4-1 in the second set when rain sent the players back to the locker room.

When play resumed, Haas won four games in a row to lead 2-0 in the third set. Delgado held serve in the next game, but that proved to be his last success.

The women's singles opened with wins for Martina Hingis, Jennifer Capriati and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario.

Capriati, seeded No 15, beat Emmanuelle Gagliardi, 6-4,6-0, the former prodigy being troubled less by her opponent than a dodgy sound system.

Hingis, the No 1 seed, overwhelmed Russia's Alina Jidkova, 6-3, 6-1, and Sanchez-Vicario recovered from a poor start against Joannette Kruger to beat the South African, 5-7,6-4, 7-6.

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