Henman's persistence ends barren spell

Tim Henman was entitled to beat his chest yesterday after finally rediscovering the Sunday punch with which to beat an opponent, thereby ending anembarrassing run of seven consecutive defeats in ATP Tourfinals and restoring the flicker of a smile to the face of British tennis.

Tim Henman was entitled to beat his chest yesterday after finally rediscovering the Sunday punch with which to beat an opponent, thereby ending anembarrassing run of seven consecutive defeats in ATP Tourfinals and restoring the flicker of a smile to the face of British tennis.

The 26-year-old from Oxfordshire overwhelmed the German Olympic silver medallist, Tommy Haas, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, to win the CA Trophy in Vienna, succeeding Greg Rusedski, his Davis Cup team-mate, as the champion.

It was Henman's fifth ATP Tour title and his first since defeating Andre Agassi in the Swiss Indoors final in Basle two years ago. Apart from adding $130,000 (£86,000) to his fortune, Henman's Austrian victory increases his prospects of qualifying for next month's Masters Cup in Lisbon.

Henman won titles in Sydney and Tashkent in 1997 and in Tashkent and Basle in 1998 before stumbling at the last hurdle in Doha, Rotterdam (twice), London's Queen's Club, Basle, Scottsdale and Cincinnati. In Cincinnati in August, Henman cast aside one psychological barrier by defeating Pete Sampras in straight sets, having lost to the Wimbledon champion in their six previous matches: but he was unable to beat Sweden's Thomas Enqvist in the final.

Haas, like Henman, has had a disappointing time in finals - yesterday brought his fourth successive defeat since winning his first ATP Tour title in Memphis last year.

Henman, the sixth seed, saved two match points en route to defeating Switzerland's Roger Federer in Saturday's semi-finals, 2-6, 7-6, 6-3, but the British No 1 was scarcely troubled by Haas until the concluding game. Then, serving for the match at 5-4, Henman recovered from 0-40, reaching deuce with his 10th ace and executing a backhand cross-court winner to convert his second match point after two hours and four minutes.

Serving with greater consistency than in some of the earlier rounds on the medium-pace hard court, Henman found that a break in each set (for 4-3 in the first, 2-1 in the second, and 3-2 in the third) was enough to frustrate Haas. The German twice threw his racket. The second time, in the eighth game of the third set, it landed in the crowd, waking up one or two of his supporters, who had hardly been stunned by his performance.

The opening six games were tight, Haas double-faulting in the seventh to weaken his cause and missing a break point two games later, which helped Henman take the set after 39 minutes. A splendid low forehand return by Henman enabled him to break in the third game of the second set, and Haas survived a break point in the opening game of the third set before making a mess of a forehand volley to lose the fifth game.

After that, Henman's determination ensured that the contest did not extend to the point where his concentration might have wavered. "I was trying not to think too much about all those lost finals," he said, having already satisfied himself that only the first of them could be attributed to ineptitude on his part. "I played badly against [Rainer] Schuttler in Doha last year," he said, "but the otherfinals have been close and didn't go my way."

Henman said he took heart from Australia's Pat Rafter, who lost five successive finals in 1997 before dismantling Rusedski to win the United States Open. "The only way I was going to break the run of losing finals was to keep getting to finals," Henman said. "If I can overcome the barrier of beating Pete, there's no doubt in my mind that I can overcome other hurdles."

The haul has proved to be longer than some of his supporters had anticipated, and the road became bumpier after what was perceived by many observers as Henman's failure at Wimbledon in July. Henman was beaten in five sets in the fourth round by Australia's Mark Philippoussis, one of the favourites. It had taken the skill and experience of Sampras to halt him in the previous two semi-finals.

Immediately after Wimbledon, Henman managed to win his two singles matches as Britain slid out of the Davis Cup World Group, beaten by Ecuador on grass at the All England Club.

Putting the disappointment of the relegation tie behind him, Henman enjoyed a most successful build-up to last month's United States Open. But on reached Flushing Meadows he was defeated by Richard Krajicek, the 1996 Wimbledon champion, in the third round.

Unlike Haas, Henman did not find a silver lining at the Olympics this time. But the metal polish will come out of the cupboard again when he returns from Vienna.

HENMAN'S RUN OF FINAL DEFEATS

Rainer Schuttler (Ger) 4-6 7-5 1-6 (Jan 1999, Doha, concrete) Yevgeny Kafelnikov (Rus) 2-6 6-7 (Feb 1999, Rotterdam, hard) Pete Sampras (US) 7-6 4-6 6-7 (June 1999, Queen's Club, grass) Karol Kucera (Slovak) 4-6 6-7 6-4 6-4 6-7 (Oct 1999, Basle, carpet) Cedric Pioline (Fr) 7-6 4-6 6-7 (Feb 2000, Rotterdam, hard) Lleyton Hewitt (Aus) 4-6 6-7 (Mar 2000, Scottsdale, concrete) Thomas Enqvist (Swe) 6-7 4-6 (Aug 2000, Cincinnati, concrete)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
News
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
fashion
News
news
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 roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments