Zib seizes on Henman's scatter-gun aggression

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The Independent Online

Tomas Zib's surname will not appear in Arabic newspapers today, even though the 28-year-old Czech qualifier, ranked No 149 in the world, embarrassed the sixth-seeded Tim Henman in the first round of the Dubai Open last night.

Tomas Zib's surname will not appear in Arabic newspapers today, even though the 28-year-old Czech qualifier, ranked No 149 in the world, embarrassed the sixth-seeded Tim Henman in the first round of the Dubai Open last night.

A zib, apparently, is part of the male anatomy. Suffice to say there were times last night when Henmanserved like a zib-head.

Zib played exceptionally well and deserved to win, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, after two hours and 21 minutes. But on this occasion Henman's policy of aggression at all times with his serve misfired. He had to play a lot of second serves and double-faulted five times, the first of them costing him a break in the opening set.

Henman praised his opponent rather than blame himself. "I've no complaints," he said. "All credit to Zib. He hit some good passing shots and was very solid from the back. He beat me on the backhand a little bit too often, but I've played a lot worse and won."

The British No 1, who has not advanced beyond the quarter-finals in seven visits here, also lost in the first round last year to Attila Savolt, of Hungary, ranked outside the top 100. That defeat was accepted philosophically by Henman, who had just returned after shoulder surgery.

Having ended last season in style, beating Gustavo Kuerten, Andy Roddick and Roger Federer on his way to winning the first Masters Series title of his career in Paris, Henman's confidence was high. After losing in the third round at the Australian Open last month, he defeated the world No 1 Federer for the sixth time in seven meetings to reach the semi-finals in Rotterdam, only to lose to Lleyton Hewitt for the seventh time in a row.

The Briton made his exit in distinguished company yesterday. Rainer Schüttler, the third seed, and the fifth-seeded Mark Philippoussis, were also losers.

Henman accepted a new role yesterday. While Greg Rusedski, the British No 2, faces a possible two-year ban after testing positive for the steroid nandrolone, Henman, his Davis Cup team-mate, has become part of an ATP "Task Force on Supplements".

Henman is one of 10 current or former ATP professionals who will seek ways to help players manage the risks associated with taking vitamins, minerals and nutritional supplements.

Andre Agassi, the American former world No 1, is the biggest name on the "Task Force," which also includes James Blake, Albert Costa, Fernando Gonzales, Dominik Hrbaty, Mark Knowles, Ivan Ljubicic, Alberto Mancini and Max Mirnyi.

Chaired by Jan Leschly, of Denmark, a former top-10 player and former chief executive of SmithKline Beecham, the pharmaceutical company, the "Task Force" is reinforced by medical experts such as Dr Andrew Pipe, of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, Barry Sample, director of science and technology for Quest Diagnostics, and Dr Gary Windler, a member of the ATP medical services committee.

"Given the present circumstances, it's something the players are taking very seriously," Henman said. "I think it's coincidental that it's being announced now. We talked about it at the beginning of the year."

"It's fair to say there is a little uncertainty. When you are in a position where you have to take some kind of supplement, your mind starts to think, 'Is my bottle of water contaminated'."

Mark Miles, the ATP's chief executive, said: "On one hand, it is clear that dietary and nutritional supplements pose real risks of testing positive under anti-doping rules. On the other, elite athletes have special dietary and nutritional needs, and often are advised to take vitamins, minerals and supplements to prevent heat exhaustion, cramping and other ailments."

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