Nalbandian breaks uncertain Henman

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The Independent Online

Tim Henman bowed out of the second round of the ATP Masters Series in Montreal last night, losing 6-4, 6-4 to David Nalbandian. The Argentinian maintained his focus despite rain forcing a temporary halt after he had broken Henman in the second set.

Britain's No 1 could hardly have made a worse start, dropping his serve in the first game. A drop shot from Nalbandian left the score on deuce in Henman's next service game. But he held on, and in the next game, he survived two game points to break Nalbandian and level the match.

However, the good work was undone immediately as an uncertain looking Henman offered Nalbandian two break points and he took the second with a smash.

Nalbandian won his next service game to move 4-2 ahead but in a topsy-turvy set, Henman won the following two games ­ the latter to love against serve ­ to haul himself back into the match at 4-4. Nalbandian re-established his dominance to break again and then served out the set.

The first four games of the second set went with serve. Then Nalbandian made a crucial breakthrough just before the rain arrived, breaking Henman for a fourth time. And Henman ­ who was handed a place in the second round after Fernando Gonzalez retired hurt after the first set of their first round tie ­ could not recover after the rain relented. Nalbandian, the 2002 Wimbledon finalist, held on to his single service break to complete a 6-4, 6-2 victory.

In the first round, the sixth seed Andy Roddick was forced to battle back from a set down before finally beating the Belgian Xavier Malisse 3-6, 6-0, 6-2 in the first round.

The second seed, Juan Carlos Ferrero, of Spain, had a much more comfortable start to his summer hard-court season with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over the Frenchman Cyril Saulnier.

The fifth seed Lleyton Hewitt, of Australia, waltzed past the American Bob Bryan 6-2, 6-2 in only 44 minutes.

Guillermo Coria's run of three straight titles ­ all won on clay in Europe ­ was brought to a halt as the Argentinian retired with a right hamstring injury after dropping the first set to the Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 6-3.

Britain's No 2, Greg Rusedski, was due to play Roger Federer last night after the Wimbledon champion, seeded three, rallied from a break down in the third set to beat the Argentinian Gaston Gaudio 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.