Henman relieved at reaching semi-final

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Tim Henman yesterday spoke of his relief after finally breaking his lengthy run of quarter-final setbacks to march into the last four of the Zagreb Indoors tournament. The British No 1 completed a comfortable 6-3, 6-4 win over the Italian Andreas Seppi to.

The victory sent Henman into his first ATP semi-final since the US Open in September 2004. The intervening 17 months have seen the 31-year-old slump to 43rd in the world rankings and lose in the second round at Wimbledon and first round of this year's Australian Open.

"It's been a while," said Henman. "Last year I made quite a few quarter-finals at the beginning of the year, but I wasn't able to take advantage of any of those opportunities. Thankfully, I've been able to do that this week and it feels good to still be involved in the business end of an event." Henman went into the match on the back of a morale-boosting straight-sets triumph over rising star Richard Gasquet on Wednesday. His confidence clearly returning after a sluggish start to the 2006 season, he immediately imposed himself on Seppi and broke the Italian's opening service game.

Having stretched his lead to 3-1, Henman was broken himself in the fifth game before being pegged back to 3-3 by Seppi. Henman stepped up a gear and reeled off three straight games to take the first set with the minimum of fuss.

The second set was a tighter affair, but Henman always held the whip hand thanks to his early break of serve. Serving 2-1 ahead, he was taken to deuce but held on to take the game and was rarely troubled thereafter.

"I like the conditions here as I feel they suit my game and I'm gaining in confidence with each win. I want to take advantage of the fact that I'm through to the semi-finals and make the most of the situation."