Henman shows wild streak as Britons complete one-two

Typical. You invite an outsider to your party and the first thing he does is slam a door in the face of one of the hosts. Tim Henman's gratitude for the wild card he was given to play in the Madrid Masters did not extend to any sympathy for Fernando Verdasco here last night. The world No 26, who was born and bred in Madrid, was beaten 7-5, 6-3 as Britain completed a one-two over Spain, Andy Murray having beaten Ivan Navarro Pastor in straight sets earlier in the day.

Henman lost to Verdasco last year in the first round of the US Open in their only previous meeting, but the British No 2 believes he is now playing better than at any stage in the last 18 months. He reached the final of his last tournament, in Tokyo, and beat Murray on his way to the quarter-finals a week earlier in Bangkok.

After dropping to No 76 in the world in June, Henman is back up to No 41 and aiming to win a place in the top 32 in time to be seeded at the Australian Open in January. His autumn form is reminiscent of 2003, when he won the Paris Masters, beating Roger Federer and Andy Roddick along the way. " At this time of the year there are certainly a few guys who are not at their most stable mentally and you want to take advantage of it," Henman said.

Henman's game was in excellent shape here. He served with pace and precision, particularly on the rare occasions he got into trouble, returned with confidence, volleyed beautifully and hit a succession of winners from both flanks.

The match, the first of the evening session, had gone with serve until Henman broke in the 12th game thanks largely to two superb backhands. He broke serve in the second set, saved four break points at 2-0 and served out for victory in just an hour and a half.

Henman might even have had time to go out for dinner ­ though not, presumably, to the restaurant Verdasco's parents own here ­ but for the fact that he will be back on court this afternoon against David Ferrer, the world No 15 and another local hero.

Murray, who won 6-2, 6-4, never looked in trouble against the 24-year-old Navarro Pastor, who is ranked No 135 in the world and is a regular on the Challenger circuit. Nevertheless it was a useful victory for the Scot, who had not won at a rankings event since beating Fernando Gonzalez at the US Open.

The British No 1's first serve was in fine shape and it was the first time since June that he had not been broken in a match. Navarro Pastor had only one break point, while Murray's excellent returns frequently had the Spaniard in trouble on his own serve. Murray, who now plays Ivan Ljubicic, the world No 3, has been working on getting to the net. He volleyed with confidence and style, whether he was playing stop shots, punching the ball deep or digging it out from under his feet.

He was watched by his best friend, Carlos, who had flown from Barcelona. When Carlos came to the side of the court to congratulate him at the end of the match the Scot opened his wallet to show him some ¤100 notes. " I hadn't seen him since the Barcelona tournament this year," Murray explained. "We went to the casino and I hadn't spent any of the money that I'd won there. I had all the notes that I'd won and I was showing them to him."

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.

Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

Today's pre-school child costs £35,000, according to Aviva. And that's but the tip of an iceberg, says DJ Taylor
Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US