Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Tennis: No Mystery for Tim

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Tennis: No Mystery for Tim

Article excerpt

Byline: By Frank Malley

For a man with a mystery illness Tim Henman's tennis game looked in the rudest of health at the French Open yesterday afternoon.

Whatever the doctor ordered ( and Henman did have an ECG which ruled out any heart problems after his five-sets struggle in the first round against Cyril Saulnier in which he experienced bouts of exhaustion ( it worked as he dismantled Lars Burgsmuller 6-0 6-3 6-3 to take his place in the third round.

It took just an hour and 33 minutes, and while Henman later maintained he still did not feel fully fit, as an exercise in mind over body it could not have been more successful.

Against Saulnier, Henman had almost drowned in waves of exhaustion. Against Burgsmuller, he dwelt only on the positives, to such an extent that for two sets he did not even hear the kids who packed into Court One on `Children's Wednesday' and twittered throughout like a flock of migrating starlings.

"I wouldn't say there's a great deal of change (in health) but I dealt with the scenario a lot better because in the first round for the first two sets all I worried about was the way I felt on court," said Henman.

"I still don't feel my best but I went on court much more focused on the way I wanted to play and not paying too much attention to my energy levels.

"From the word `Go' I set the tone with the style of game I wanted to play and all of a sudden you have a totally different match.

"At the beginning of the third set when I was sitting at the change of ends I was suddenly listening to the crowd and I thought `God, it's pretty noisy.' Then I asked myself why I hadn't noticed it for two sets. I think that was a good sign.

"That's the attitude I have to have. You can't always feel your best, whether you've got a niggle or you just don't feel great you've got to get on with it. If I can still play that level of tennis why can't I progress?"

Why not indeed? Because next up is Spain's Galo Blanco, the Spaniard who Henman credits with firing his desire to master clay after a first-round defeat in Monte Carlo in 1998, but who Henman beat here two years ago. …

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