Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Humour Sees Henman through to Third Round

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Humour Sees Henman through to Third Round

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRIS JONES

VERY rarely do you witness a contest that restores your faith in sportsmanship, but Tim Henman's impressive 7-6, 5-7, 6-1, 7-5 French Open second round win over Todd Martin should become compulsory watching for every aspiring international player.

It was a match of wildly fluctuating fortunes between two seasoned professionals, who are also great friends. This common bond allowed the players to overcome a series of dubious line calls which Australian umpire John Blom took it upon himself to make. Some looked well wide and others were unbelievably close, but to those on court and watching from the open stands, there were all the ingredients for an explosive situation.

Instead of foul language - which earned Lleyton Hewitt a warning yesterday in his win - Henman, the 25th seed, and Martin somehow managed to find humour. The umpire was the butt of their jokes which reached a nadir when Henman queried a call, asked the umpire to look at the mark and then rubbed it out as he arrived.

The crowd doubled over with delight while Martin raised his arms in triumph at what you could imagine had been a wheeze they dreamt up having secretly met behind the umpire's chair at the last change of ends.

Even when they resorted to verbals with the umpire, both players kept their cool with Martin getting nearest to boiling over with the assertion that one call had been "ridiculous - but I appreciated the set point call!"

The set point call in question had been the worst with the umpire calling the ball good when he chose the wrong mark. Henman was incredulous and despite standing over the real mark, refused to lose it although he was seething as Martin won the second set.

Henman, who now meets second seed Juan Carlos Ferrero tomorrow, could play on the Roland Garros centre court for the first time and said: "I think it's a match worthy of that honour. …

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