Labouring Henman left to shoulder discomfort

Countdown to Wimbledon: Roddick clocks record-equalling 149mph rocket as he sets up final duel with Grosjean

Despite having treatment on court for his shoulder, serving indifferently and losing decisively in the semi-finals of the Stella Artois tournament at Queen's Club yesterday, Tim Henman insists all is fine with his health as the run-up to Wimbledon gets under way.

Henman, who had been runner-up at this event three times in the last four years, never looked like getting there again and was deservedly beaten 6-3 6-4 by Sebastien Grosjean, an opponent he had defeated three out of four previous times, most recently on clay in the spring. But unlike most other Frenchmen, Grosjean is not a clay-court craftsman. He lives in Florida, prefers hard courts and clearly enjoys grass, too.

Grosjean, who took a wild card into the Stella, will face the power-serving Andy Roddick in this afternoon's final, the American 20-year-old having posted his first-ever victory over fellow American Andre Agassi, 6-1 6-7 7-6.

Despite the early-evening entreaties of an audience audibly fuelled on Pimm's, Henman was unable to impose any sort of authority on a surface where he has previously thrived. He fell 4-1 behind in the first set before rousing himself, saving two set points at 2-5 before Grosjean wrapped it up at the third opportunity with a deft drop shot.

Treatment on the shoulder between sets did not bring an upturn of fortune. His second serve frequently a gift as it trundled over the net at speeds below 90mph, Henman was twice broken to go 4-1 behind before another spirited rally raised the hopes of the "C'mon, Timmy" brigade before they were dashed, inevitably, by an opponent who had long realised that steadiness and application would be enough to see him through.

"My shoulder was a bit stiff today," said Henman, "but it is just caused by an accumulation of serving more aggressively and the balls being heavier at this tournament. I certainly don't envisage it being an ongoing problem."

The British No 1 gave credit to Grosjean, "who played good tennis and made my life much harder", but he also admitted: "There were some shots I missed which I should not have and they ended up costing me. You can't afford those extra donations. Winning three matches here [the first time he has done that since Wimbledon a year ago] has to be a positive sign. But it still doesn't hide my disappointment because I would have liked to get to the final again."

Explaining that he had had hot cream rubbed into his shoulder joint between sets, Henman added: "Sometimes when I catch a backhand late and the joint is exposed a bit, it isn't too comfortable and I would be lying if I said it wasn't always in the back of my mind. But if I had got to the final I would have been ready, raring to go.

"The shoulder is getting stronger all the time, but with so much emphasis on serving on the grass it has been taking a bit of a battering. But it should be OK. I have learned to differentiate between stiffness and a pain you should not try to go through. This is something you play through."

Twenty four hours after regaining No 1 spot in the world rankings, Agassi was rocked by an opponent 13 years his junior in the other semi-final. The match, the firepower of Roddick versus the courtcraft of Agassi, was a fascinating contrast between the present and the future of American tennis. It was the first time the kid (if you can thus describe someone who stands 6ft 2in) from Omaha, Nebraska, had beaten the compatriot he probably admires above all others.

Roddick, seventh in the world rankings, struck 29 aces, a dozen of them in three successive service games in the second set, and did more than enough to demonstrate that in this mood he will cause considerable havoc at Wimbledon, even if the grass there has been doctored to make it slower these days.

The wild card which Agassi took into this tournament has offered priceless match practice in readiness for the Championships in eight days' time. He will also, doubtless, be boosted by going through the gates of the All England Club as the top seed.

However, nothing could disguise his frustration at permitting Roddick to supplant him in this afternoon's final. One expletive, issued as he drove a forehand out of court in the second set tie-break, cost him a code of conduction violation warning from the umpire, Wayne McKewen, and at the end, following a perfunctory handshake with the winner, Agassi hurried off court. No bows or kisses this time.

Two of Roddick's aces were clocked at 143mph, six miles an hour short of Greg Rusedski's world record set five years ago at Indian Wells, and one serve, which incredibly Agassi laid his racket on, equalled that Rusedski mark, at least according to the tournament speed gun.

Agassi had no complaints about the result. "I deserved to lose this match and yet I still had some chances, so that's a positive that I can give myself. When you hit the spot with a serve like Andy's there is not much anybody can do about it. But every time I got my nose in front I was willing myself not to put the ball away, so I got pretty much what I deserved. I didn't have the composure to put it away, and it is hard for me to feel good about that. Andy has a lot of firepower and a real nice game. I can only hope for better for myself at Wimbledon."

News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
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
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
PROMOTED VIDEO
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
Travel
Warner Bros released a mock-up of what the new Central Perk will look like
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
News
i100
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
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