Henman's rally too late to hold off Medvedev

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The Independent Online

Andrei Medvedev of Ukraine yesterday out-served, out-hit, out-thought and outmanoeuvred Tim Henman to reach the semi-finals of the Estoril Open in Portugal.

The British No 1's hopes of a first clay court title were dashed as Medvedev charged to a 6-2, 6-3 success. The 1993 champion, having endured four first-round and one second-round defeat in his five hard court events this year, looked eager to prove his mettle.

So it proved, as the Ukrainian drew first blood with a break to move 3-1 ahead of Henman, who had been able to dictate play and attack the net at will against lesser opponents in the earlier rounds, but found Medvedev a different proposition.

When Henman was able to clear a path to the net he misplaced his volleys and routinely left himself out of position, allowing Medvedev to pass him. The Ukrainian produced a series of flighted lobs and neatly angled volleys on his way to clinching the opening set, breaking a second time for a one-set advantage.

The Briton's nightmare continued as two service breaks left him 4-0 down, but a marathon fifth game resulted in Henman's first break of the Medvedev serve and when the Ukrainian failed to hold again his lead was just 4-3.

As Henman began to find his feet on the clay, however, a lucky net cord gave Medvedev the chance to pass his opponent, stranded at the net, and move to break point. The Briton fired a forehand too long, allowing the 25-year-old to move 5-3 ahead.

With Medvedev serving for the match, Henman spurned two break points before sliding a backhand wide into the sidelines in meek surrender. Having reached the French Open final last year, Medvedev's performance was the perfect reminder to the rest of world tennis that he will be a major contender to take Andre Agassi's crown in Paris.

The American World No 1, meanwhile, has withdrawn from the Monte Carlo Open after suffering a hamstring injury in the Atlanta Tennis Challenge. Agassi injured his right hamstring in a second-round match on Thursday against Jiri Vanke of the Czech Republic, and retired.

The International Tennis Federation's Davis Cup Committee has confirmed Chile's win in their riot-marred tie against Argentina in Santiago last weekend. Chile were handed a 5-0 victory on Saturday when the Argentine team refused to play on after local fans hurled plastic chairs, bottles, fruit and coins on to the court. However, the committee has banned Chile from hosting any Davis Cup matches until after the 2002 tournament and imposed fines on both sides.

Estoril Open Results


Singles Second Round

Juan Carlos Ferrero (Sp) def. Franco Squillari (Arg) 6-4, 6-4. (3) Nicolas Lapentti (Ecu) def. Richard Fromberg (Aus) 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.


Andrei Medvedev (Ukr) def. (4) Tim Henman (GB) 6-2, 6-3. Carlos Moya (Sp) def. Bohdan Ulihrach (Cz Rep) 4-6, 6-1, 6-2. Francisco Clavet (Sp) def. (8) Nicolas Escude (Fr) 6-3, 6-2. (3) Nicolas Lapentti (Ecu) def. Juan Carlos Ferrero (Sp) 7-6 (6), 6-4.


Singles Quarterfinals

(2) Nathalie Dechy (Fr) def. (8) Angeles Montolio (Sp) 6-3, 6-4. Tathiana Garbin (It) def. (7) Rita Kuti Kis (Hun) 7-6 (1), 6-4. (1) Anke Huber (Ger) def. Cristina Torrens-Valero (6), Spain, 6-3, 7-6 (2). (5) Silvia Farina (It) def. Miroslava Vavrinec (Swit) 6-3, 6-2.