Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Henman Grinds a Win from Dogfight

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Henman Grinds a Win from Dogfight

Article excerpt

Byline: By Frank Malley

The folks on the Wimbledon Hill shouted themselves hoarse and the inevitable cries of `C'mon Tim' reverberated around Court One.

But it is going to take a lot more than patriotic fervour if Tim Henman is going to satisfy the expectation of a nation and bring home the most famous trophy in tennis for the first time in 67 years. It is going to take a tennis miracle.

That much was evident as Britain's great tennis hope treated us to a typical diet of tentative serving and imaginative groundstrokes, all garnished with the almost obligatory lapses in concentration during his 6-2 7-6 3-6 6-1 first round victory against Tomas Zib - a match Henman himself described as a "dogfight."

Lest anyone say we are being too harsh on Henman after just one match, let's consider the reputation of his opponent from the Czech Republic - a 27-year-old whose name would make an efficient score at Scrabble but who had never come remotely close to winning a Grand Slam match.

Zib had sneaked into the tournament only as a lucky loser from the qualifiers, grateful to Alex Corretja's wife for going into labour at the most inopportune of moments and providing the Spaniard with a valid ticket out of the tournament. Zib is ranked 154 in the world, 125 places below Henman.

On top of that, for the best part of the first set Zib walked around Court One as if he was in need of a zimmer frame - the pain from a lower back problem requiring extensive on-court manipulation from a physio at the end of the first set.

And yet if the most controversial point of this tournament had not gone Henman's way when he stood at break point down in the 11th game of the second set then we might well be discussing the second biggest shock in Wimbledon history following defending champion Lleyton Hewitt's dramatic exit at the hands of unknown Ivo Karlovic on the first day. …

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