Krajicek tells Henman how to beat the best

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The one man to have mastered Pete Sampras at Wimbledon since the American embarked on his run of seven titles in eight years in 1993 will not be there this time.

Richard Krajicek enjoyed the greatest success of his career in 1996, when he won his only Grand Slam by beating MaliVai Washington in a disappointing Wimbledon final that, outside the Dutchman's homeland at least, is probably remembered mainly for the intrusion of a female streaker.

Not that Krajicek should worry. He had already done the hardest job by dethroning Sampras in the quarter-finals on a day when his impressive serve was working to perfection, and that, he thinks, is the key to stopping the Sampras phenomenon on the lawns of SW19.

"Tim Henman is playing impressive tennis at the moment," are the first encouraging words the Dutchman has to offer to the British No 1, who is scheduled to meet Sampras in the quarter-finals. But he adds mischievously that Henman will need to "serve four aces a game" to beat the American or hope that the latter has a fall and has to retire.

More seriously, he offers advice that is almost as difficult for Henman to follow. "When I beat Sampras, I was able to dictate the whole match. That's the key; not to do it for one set, but stay concentrated from beginning to end," is Krajicek's simple plan. "Don't let him get in front, because he will exploit his advantage. That means winning the toss and getting in front. Tim has to take the few opportunities he will get and must stay determined right to the end."

The 30-year-old Krajicek, who is recuperating after an elbow operation, regards Henman as one of the favourites to win the men's singles title. "Along with Pat Rafter, Andre Agassi and maybe Greg Rusedski, Tim is one of the players who could win it... Oh, and there's one other name I forgot, Pete Sampras.

"Perhaps the edge has gone off his determination to win the title again after last year achieving his goal of winning a 13th Grand Slam. He has completed his mission and the years do start to count, even for a man like Sampras."

Jon Visbeen is senior tennis writer for De Telegraaf in Amsterdam

Comments