Henman plays to the crowd

It was not quite Henman Hill, but a vociferous late-night crowd helped to encourage the British No 3 to an excellent victory in the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Open last night.

Tim Henman, overtaken this week by Andy Murray and Greg Rusedski in the rankings, had lost his previous two matches against Radek Stepanek, but a spirited recovery earned a memorable 7-5, 2-6, 7-6 win over the world No 16. At 5-2 down in the final set Henman seemed on his way out, but a remarkable sequence of 11 points in a row revived his chances.

At 5-3, Henman broke serve with four superb winners: a top-spin backhand lob, a thumping forehand, a forehand crosscourt return of serve and a chipped backhand down the line. Stepanek broke first in the tie-break, but Henman won the last four points to earn a quarter-final today against Rafael Nadal, the world No 2.

"To raise my level at the end and to play that well and then get into a breaker and finish it off is fantastic," Henman said. "It seemed like the crowd knew the position I was in. It felt like I was at home."

Elsewhere it was a day on which apparent mismatches produced some surprising results. Andre Agassi, with 60 singles titles on his CV, lost 7-5, 7-5 to Bjorn Phau, who has yet to spell his name out to the ATP's trophy engravers; Marat Safin (6ft 4in tall and weighing 14st) was beaten 7-6, 6-4 by Olivier Rochus (5ft 5in and 9st 4lb); and Mohammed Al Ghareeb, who has won a career total of just £19,000, came within two points of taking a set off Roger Federer, who has banked £12m.

Agassi never got going against Phau, the 26-year-old son of a German mother and Indonesian father, ranked at No 80. Even allowing for the fact that injuries have restricted him to just two tournaments since last September, Agassi's performance was poor.

The American made regular errors and his body language spoke of a player years away from his best. Asked afterwards what his main ambition for the year was, Agassi replied: "I don't know. Get my little girl out of diapers. I want that to happen this year. And maybe win a few matches." It was clearly not the best moment for a female reporter to ask Agassi what his wife, Steffi Graf, meant to him. "She's my wife," Agassi replied. "Do you have a husband?"

Rochus played a canny game against Safin, who had knocked out the world No 5, Nikolai Davydenko, 24 hours earlier in his first match after a six-month break with a knee injury. The Belgian varied pace and spin to prevent the Russian getting any sort of rhythm.

Al Ghareeb, a 25-year-old Kuwaiti ranked No 488 in the world, served well and never looked overawed. He broke to lead 5-3 in the first set but eventually lost 7-6, 6-4 to Federer, who appeared content to stay in second gear until potential trouble loomed.

* Andy Murray began his reign as British No 1 in miserable fashion, thrashed 6-2, 6-2 by the Spaniard Tommy Robredo in the first round of the Tennis Channel Open in Las Vegas on Tuesday night.

Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
tech
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.

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star