Nick Bollettieri: Wimbledon Dossier

Strength of character is priceless commodity: Henman's fans should take heart from his desire to fight while Justine Henin-Hardenne was just off the pace
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The Independent Online

The most important point of Tim Henman's victory yesterday was that in the face of defeat, he found a way to win. I cannot emphasise too strongly what strength of character and desire that shows. To come back from two sets down, and not even playing particularly well until the last set and a half, needs a calm mind and an inner belief that says: "I'm not getting off this court a loser." I said he'd win in four. By doing it in five, and from two down, he showed me - and I hope everyone in Britain - the extent of his desire.

That is a hugely positive message for his fans to take from the match, because that is the attitude of champions. And having that attitude eventually let him take a grasp of the match, albeit in a fifth set, when his strengths came to the fore. No matter that he only hit nine aces in five sets. He started hit great groundstrokes, running forehands and angled shots, so that in the end it almost looked comfortable. He dug deep. He got there. That might actually turn out to be a better learning experience than an easy three-setter.

Justine Henin-Hardenne had a learning experience of a different kind. When I wrote yesterday that she could be the story of the tournament, I was not thinking it would happen so fast. I was expecting a statement of intent about her chances of winning the event, not an exit.

But even as we can point to the obvious causes of her demise yesterday against Eleni Daniilidou - a huge 48 unforced errors, 11 double-faults - I do not believe it is a straightforward case of Henin throwing this match away.

Daniilidou deserves a lot of credit: for serving well, for her strong forehand, for her own beautiful one-handed backhand (Henin does not have a monopoly), and for not being intimidated against a girl who was one of the hot favourites to take the title.

When we talk about unforced errors, it can be misleading. Errors can start creeping in because of consistency of play by an opponent, by a build-up of momentum. That is actually forcing errors. Henin herself said afterwards that she "never got into a rhythm". That was partly down to Daniilidou. Henin also said she'd been handed "the worst draw I could get." By that she acknowledged that Daniilidou is someone who likes grass and is always a potential danger.

The only reason that Daniilidou is not a lot higher in the world rankings is that she's had a lot of injuries. Last year alone - when she was a semi-finalist on grass in Birmingham - she withdrew due to problems with her back, thumb, Achilles and calf. Yet when she's fit, she does pose a threat on a surface she likes.

Henin was also probably still readjusting after winning the French Open. There, she had time, longer points, chances to chance pace and direction. Yesterday everything got quicker. Too quick.

Goodbye to Greg?

Greg Rusedski's cards are stacking against him, and he could play one of his last Wimbledon hands today. He's capable, on his very best day, with his serve working perfectly, of beating anyone.

But his opponent, Joachim Johansson, has got big weapons, too. Greg needs a high percentage of serves in. And if he stays back, slicing all the time, I think he'll be in trouble. I take Johansson to win in four tough sets.

Elsewhere, I think Juan Carlos Ferrero could be the victim of an upset by the South Korean Hyung-Taik Lee, who's fleet-footed, dangerous and doesn't make too many mistakes. Gael Monfils, winner of three junior Slams last year, is a huge talent. But today I think he'll lose to Dominik Hrbaty, a good counter-puncher whose experience could give him the edge.

Over in the women's singles, it's a big day for one of my students, Jamea Jackson, who is 18, ranked No 107 in the world, and faces the No 1, Lindsay Davenport. Jamea needs the match of her life to win and I don't see an upset.

Today's big match: Mark Philippoussis v Marat Safin

Mark Philippoussis is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet, hugely popular and very deserving of his wild card. The ups and downs of his career have often been determined by his health, and he's been terribly unlucky to suffer injuries at crucial times. But he's never complained, and if anyone deserves a good run, it's him. He'll certainly have the crowd on his side. His game is built around his giant serve and his big forehand.

The entire match will swing on whether they're functioning well. Tie-breaks will suit Mark. But if he doesn't serve great, Safin will punish him with superb groundstrokes, both sides. Marat is also confident at the net, and longer rallies will also favour him, so Mark wants to keep it tight.

The big question with Safin always concerns his mentality on the day. We know he has self-doubt about playing on grass. I think that doubt is misplaced. He might not like playing on grass but he can do it. But can he retain his focus? That's a toss-up.

You ask the questions

Q Do you think women should have equal prize- money to men in the singles events at Wimbledon? Or is the misogyny of the All England Club part and parcel of its antiquated charm?

Sandra Holmes, Hampshire

A The All England Club has plenty of charms, from strawberries and cream to all the etiquette. But in my opinion, prize-money should be equal. The girls' circuit is very strong right now, it has a lot of damn good players and lots of excitement. In fact, until Rafael Nadal started firing on all cylinders this year, I'd say the women's game had had an edge over the men for a while.

People argue that the women only play three sets. But we're in the business of making sport entertaining, and that means having players who aren't only very talented and exciting to watch, but also - male or female - charming, charismatic, crowd-pulling. Do the women bring that? Yes. Pay them the same.

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