Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Henman's Sticking to His Title Mission

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Henman's Sticking to His Title Mission

Article excerpt

Byline: By Phil Casey

Coverage of Tim Henman's third round win at Wimbledon meant the film `Mission: Impossible' was dropped from TV schedules on Saturday.

But Henman is starting to believe his mission to become the first British winner since 1936 is becoming more possible by the day.

The British number one turned in his most impressive performance of the championships so far in the fading light of Saturday evening, beating Swedish qualifier Robin Soderling in straight sets.

Kept waiting for several hours by drawn out matches featuring Andre Agassi and Jennifer Capriati on Centre Court before him, Henman was anxious to book his place in the last 16 for the eighth year in succession as quickly as possible.

And despite a minor setback when he was broken to love as he served for the match, the 10th seed did just that as he overwhelmed his 18-year-old opponent 6-3 6-1 6-4 in 94 minutes.

Henman's three opponents so far may have a combined world ranking of 442 and all came through qualifying - Tomas Zib was a `lucky loser' from qualifying - but the 28-year-old has no doubt he is playing better now than he was last year, when he lost a semi-final to eventual champion Lleyton Hewitt.

But he concedes the real work starts when the second week begins today with a fourth round clash with last year's beaten finalist David Nalbandian.

Henman said: "I feel the biggest improvement has been my serving, I've served very consistently and aggressively and if I'm going to progress further in this tournament that's got to continue.

"The last two matches this year certainly bode well for the next week.

"My game is moving in the right direction but on the other side of the coin I still haven't played as much as I like.

"But I hope that's not going to have any bearing on the second week. I feel like my form and performances in the last two matches stand me in good stead.

"My game has taken a couple of big steps in the right direction but there's a lot of battles to be played and hopefully won in the next week.

"The reality is, if you're going to progress further down the road at this tournament you need to play better. …

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