Henman's Hanover hopes dip

After skidding ominously on the road to Hanover yesterday, Tim Henman was at a loss to explain why his pre-match feeling of well-being deserted him when faced with Daniel Vacek, a Czech qualifier he had beaten in their four previous meetings.

After skidding ominously on the road to Hanover yesterday, Tim Henman was at a loss to explain why his pre-match feeling of well-being deserted him when faced with Daniel Vacek, a Czech qualifier he had beaten in their four previous meetings.

While acknowledging Vacek's impressive performance in the second round of the Eurocard Open, Henman found it hard to believe that he had been swept off the court, 6-3, 6-1, after only 63 minutes. It was his heaviest defeat since losing to Pete Sampras, 6-0, 6-3, in Vienna last year, when the American was cranking up to end the year as the world No 1 for a record sixth consecutive time.

"I never cease to surprise myself," Henman mused. "I was playing a guy that I've beaten all four times. Today I managed to get four games."

Henman's disappointment after losing ground in the race to be among the élite eight at next month's ATP Tour Championship echoed his thoughts after losing to Argentina's Guillermo Canas in the first round of the United States Open less than two months ago.

Since then, Henman has restored a degree of confidence with a stirring display for Britain against South Africa in the Davis Cup and by advancing to the final of the Swiss Indoor Championships in Basle, losing to the Slovak Karol Kucera in a fifth-set tie-break. But he has also endured further set-backs, going down to the Frenchman Nicolas Escude in the second round at Toulouse and to Russia's Marat Safin in the first round in Vienna.

"Since the US Open, I had a lot of time to reflect and I have a slightly different approach to things," Henman said. "On two occasions it worked, and on two occasions it hasn't. If it was easy, everybody would be doing it. I've been here since Saturday. I've had really good practice. I've been working hard, been training hard off the court. Then I have a result like this. It is difficult to explain."

One aspect of Henman's downfall yesterday was easy to pinpoint - when playing an inspired opponent, the last thing to do is bolster his spirits with double-faults. Henman was guilty of four, and three of them were costly. The first, for 15-30 in the opening game, gave Vacek the incentive to make a dream start. The second gave Vacek a break for 2-0 in the second set. The third gave Vacek the opportunity to break again for 4-0.

Henman's fourth double-fault, at 40-30 in the sixth game, could have led to the embarrassment of a whitewash in the second set. At least Henman avoided that by winning the next two points.

Vacek was not in a generous mood. He conceded only 11 points on his serve, eight of them in the second set. Three of those were in the third game, when Henman created his only break points. Henman netted a backhand on the first, and Vacek saved the second with an unreturnable serve.

"I think I was a little bit stronger mentally today than he was," Vacek said. "There was more pressure on him. I can understand it. It makes a huge difference for him, I guess, if he qualifies for Hanover or not.

"The previous matches we played, I always managed to play one excellent set. Three times they were very close matches. This time was the first time I managed to stay in the game for two sets."

Henman, currently No 9 in the race for Hanover, intends to spend the rest of the week practising in Stuttgart before leaving for Paris to compete in the season's last ATP Tour Super 9 event. After that, Henman will go to Stockholm to duel for his last few qualifying points.

SECOND ROUND RESULTS:M Rios, Chile, beat S Grosjean, France, 6-3 6-4A Corretja Spain beat J Courier, United States, 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 S Schalken Netherlands beat K Kucera, Slovakia, 7-5 6-1Mariano Zabaleta, Argentina, beat Yevgeny Kafelnikov,Russia, 6-3, 6-3Tommy Haas, Germany, beat Wayne Ferreira, South Africa, 6-2, 7-6 (7-2)Daniel Vacek, Czech Republic, beat Tim Henman,, Britain, 6-3, 6-1Jiri Novak, Czech Republic, beat Cedric Pioline, France, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3Todd Martin, United States, beat Fabrice Santoro, France, 6-4, 6-2Nicolas Lapenti, Ecuador, beat Dominik Hrbaty, Slovakia, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3Sjeng Schalken, Netherlands, beat Karol Kucera, Slovakia, 7-5, 6-1

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
people
Life and Style
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
science
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
tv
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
Kristen Stewart and Rupert Sanders were pictured embracing in 2012
people
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.

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried