Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Henman: I Am Relaxed and It Helps

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Henman: I Am Relaxed and It Helps

Article excerpt


TIM HENMAN is proving that even in the autumn of his tennis life there is still time to produce career-best performances.

He is tantalisingly close to a semifinal appearance at the US Open after Nicolas Kiefer pulled out of their fourth round clash with Henman leading 6-7, 6-3, 6-1, 6-7, 3-0.

The British No1, who was made to work very hard on his 30th birthday before his German opponent quit due to a wrist injury, will tomorrow take on Slovakia's Dominik Hrbaty, the No22 seed. Even though it will be his first quarterfinal appearance at Flushing Meadows, form makes fifth-seeded Henman a firm favourite to set up a semi-final clash with either world No1 Roger Federer or Andre Agassi.

If only Henman could have reproduced the tennis heroics in Paris and at Wimbledon in the summer.

His first semi-final at the French Open has been followed by this first quarterfinal at the US Open with a disappointing fourth round loss at Wimbledon sandwiched in between.

Henman, still battling with a back problem, enjoyed marking his new life as a 'thirtysomething' with this victory and said: "I've competed hard and so am confident going into the latter stages. It seems when I release the pressure on myself - and it took a back injury to do it - then I play my best tennis.

"Everything so far has been a bonus and this is a good way to finish my birthday. My attitude on the court has been more decisive, but I'm also more relaxed. In the past I've almost tried too hard and that has affected my performance in a negative way.

"The way my back was at the beginning of the tournament, I just said 'whatever happens, if it's good it's a bonus'."

Henman's attacking style has not only proved effective on the hard courts at Flushing Meadows, it has also made him popular with fans bored by a diet of baseline rallies. …

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