Wimbledon 2014: Tim Henman’s heart is with Roger Federer (but his head is with Novak Djokovic)

But the former British No 1 claims his head says Novak Djokovic will win this year's men's final

Wimbledon

When Tim Henman first came up against a Swiss teenager called Roger Federer, who was being touted as the next big thing, he wondered for some time if all the hype was misplaced. “I beat him six out of the first seven times we played,” he recalled, “and I didn’t know what all the fuss was about.”

Two of those victories were in Federer’s own backyard in Basle, and even the first defeat was on a retirement. From there, however, the pattern changed so dramatically that in their next and final six meetings, Henman did not win a single one of the 15 sets against an opponent of whom he now says: “He is for me the best that’s ever played the game.”

For that reason the former British No 1’s heart will be with him in this year’s final, even if his head says that Novak Djokovic, the man he tipped before the tournament, will be holding the coveted silver cup some time in late afternoon. “Djokovic is very clever at playing well enough,” says Henman. “I don’t think he’s playing brilliantly and I think he’ll raise his game. What always impresses me is that he has had tough losses in finals but he always does enough. When it gets to the latter stages he can raise his level and get the victory.

“He has played well but I think there is more in the tank. If he can show that, he will be tough to beat. When you get to this stage, with players as good as they are, it is about who plays best on the day. It is something you want to control but against the top players it is something that is not in your control”

That, of course, was how Henman found it in the most famous match of his 15 years on the circuit, the 2001 Wimbledon semi-final against Goran Ivanisevic, when he was two points from victory but lost after a series of breaks for rain took the contest into a third day. His quarter-final opponent that year, already pushing him hard, was a young Federer, who will be 33 in August, the age at which Henman retired.

Not that he feels there is any chance of the seven-times champion following suit, whether or not he takes Pete Sampras’s Wimbledon record. “I think he will play until 2030,” Henman smiled. “It is amazing to me. He’s nearly 33, he has two sets of twins, he’s travelling with four kids and he still has the motivation, the hunger and the desire to keep winning. When I look at him and I see how much he enjoys it, he should play as long as he can because it is the best job in the world.”

Talk about the changing of the guard, as Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray were beaten this Wimbledon by hungry, younger men, has subsided a little since Djokovic and Federer came through without great discomfort against Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic in Friday’s semi-finals.

Henman found that new-order talk “a bit premature” but adds: “What is good is that you can see the next group of guys pushing up. To have the likes of Dimitrov, Raonic, [Kei] Nishikori, this guy [Nick] Kyrgios is great for the  game because the reality is that the big four won’t be around for ever. So it’s important that the future stars are making a name for themselves.” But not on Sunday afternoon.

News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
News
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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.

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions