Safin cuts short Henman's year

Tim Henman acknowledged the dilemma of his life in tennis. "I've never hidden behind the fact that I'll be judged on whether I win Wimbledon or not," he said. "I'm sure if I don't win Wimbledon, then that's what will stick in a lot of people's minds."

Tim Henman acknowledged the dilemma of his life in tennis. "I've never hidden behind the fact that I'll be judged on whether I win Wimbledon or not," he said. "I'm sure if I don't win Wimbledon, then that's what will stick in a lot of people's minds."

The British No 1 was reflecting on the most successful season of his career, which took him to his highest year-end ranking of No 6 in the world before being brought to a close by the groundstrokes of Marat Safin, of Russia, 6-2 7-6, in the concluding round-robin match of the Masters Cup here on Friday night.

Lleyton Hewitt caused consternation among the locals yesterday by dispatching the American Andy Roddick in the semi-finals, 6-3 6-2, after only 58 minutes If the Australian wins today's final he will supplant Roddick as the world No 2. Roddick, the man of 1,000 aces, was befuddled by Hewitt's speed and movement and solid serving, and when the American tried his new dimension of net play, matters became worse for him.

Safin, the world No 4, was due to play Roger Federer, the world No 1, in the second semi-final. It was the first time since 1990 that the the top four seeds had advanced to the semi-finals of the event.

The 30-year-old Henman had done his best to stay in touch, although he admitted his form had dipped since the US Open. The only Masters Cup qualifier not to have won a title all year, and with wins against only two top-10 players - Federer in Rotterdam and Roddick in Indian Wells - Henman had drawn admiration by battling to the last four at the French Open, on clay, and the US Open, on concrete.

At Wimbledon, however, where he had been a semi-finalist four times, Henman was eliminated in the quarter-finals by Mario Ancic, of Croatia. That, as Henman said, is what sticks in people's minds. "Do I think that right? Do I think that's fair? Probably not, but that's out of my control," he said. "It doesn't disappoint me. It doesn't frustrate me. That's fact, isn't it?"

Henman's only win in his three round-robin matches at the damp Westside Tennis Club here was against Guillermo Coria, of Argentina, 6-2 6-2. Coria, who beat Henman in the French semi-finals, was making a comeback after four months out following shoulder surgery, and his serve was tentative. The only match in which Henman's play approached the form he displayed at the US Open was against Roddick, who beat him, 7-5 7-6, in his opening round-robin contest.

He did not give the impres-sion that he believed he could beat Safin on current form. Henman created only two break points, with the Russian serving at 5-2 in the first set, and appeared to have forgotten them by the time he arrived in the interview room. Perhaps double-faulting to lose the previous game formed a clearer memory.

Safin said the second set was made to seem closer because he lost his concentration before going on to win the tie-break, 7-2.

Henman will now take a break and prepare for the arrival of his second child. His wife, Lucy, is due to give birth in three weeks. "I'll probably be changing some nappies." A puzzled American wanted to know what nappies are. "Diapers," the linguistic Henman told him.

Looking ahead to next season, when he will again be coached by Paul Annacone, on a part-time basis, Henman said he needed to improve his discipline. "I come unstuck when I'm playing well because my discipline goes down," he said. "I've got to be more disciplined on the practice court so it becomes a habit on the match court and I don't play three or four sloppy points in a row."

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
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.

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home