Henman settles in alongside Stefanki

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The Independent Online

Tim Henman won his first-round match at the Montreal Masters yesterday with a straight-sets victory over Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand. Henman, facing an opponent he had beaten on grass in the Stella Artois at Queen's Club, lost just six games on the hard court at the Stade du Maurier, winning 6-3, 6-3.

Henman has just started working with his new coach, Larry Stefanki, and though the results were not immediately encouraging yesterday, he will continue to work with him at least until after the US Open later this month. Stefanki has worked with John McEnroe, and two former world No 1s, Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marcelo Rios.

"You can't look at the results straight away," Henman told OnSport 1. "After six days it's so far so good. I felt we had a lot of similar ideas and I was ready to give it a try."

"He has got good results with Kafelnikov and Rios. It's more of a mental thing I think, as far as a coach-player relationship works."

Henman won the first set with breaks of serve in the fourth and ninth games. But it was a scrappy display by the British No 1 as he struggled to find any rhythm.

The difference was that Henman took two of his break points and Srichaphan none of his from the same number of openings. The vital game for Henman was the eighth as he saved two break points against his serve to go 5-3 up. Then Henman broke his opponent, to love, to take the first set.

One break of serve was all Henman needed in the second set to wrap up the match. Srichaphan double-faulted twice from 30-30 when 4-3 down and the Briton served out the match to 15, sealing it with a smash.

Greg Rusedski is returning to the Masters for the first time in six years, hoping the home crowd has forgiven him for walking out to represent Britain.

The last time the left-hander played in the event he felt the full wrath of Montrealers unable to forgive his departure after he chose to leave Canada for England and claim British citizenship.

"I can understand their reaction," Rusedski said. "They were frustrated and it put me in a very difficult position. It was especially tough for my parents, my brother and my grandmother, who always supported me and who were very upset."

Rusedski was due to face the 14th seed, Carlos Moya of Spain, in the first round.

One absentee in Montreal is Pete Sampras, who pulled out of the event after suffering a thigh injury during his 6-4, 6-2 defeat by Andre Agassi in the final of the Mercedes-Benz Cup in Los Angeles on Sunday. His place will be taken by Jamie Delgado, of Britain, as a "lucky loser" from the qualifying event.

Agassi's success brought him his fourth title of the year, following up victories at the Australian Open, Ericsson Open and Indian Wells, and underlined his hard-court dominance this season. He also increased his lead in the ATP Champions Race over the Brazilian world No 1, Gustavo Kuerten, whom he defeated in the semi-finals on Saturday.

"Pete and I have played so many times and in so many big matches that I came out here knowing how well I had to play," said Agassi afterwards. "He brings out the best in my game."

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