Tim's Walk on Wild Side Henman See Thes over Umpire's Bad Call but Then Tears into Todd; Veteran Martin Blown Away as British No.1 Channels His Rage
Speck, Ivan, Daily Mail (London)
Byline: IVAN SPECK
DON'T get mad, get even? An atrocious umpiring call put Todd Martin even, so Tim Henman got mad and equalled his best-ever performance at Roland Garros yesterday.
Amid scenes that could have degenerated into farce but for the firm friendship between the players, the British No.1 could not have found a better channel for his anger, seizing control of his emotions and with it the second-round match, eventually winning 7-6, 5-7, 6-1, 7-5.
Rarely can Henman have felt a greater injustice.
With the score standing at 5-6, 30-30 and Henman leading by a set, a Martin second serve landed well outside the line and was called in. Umpire John Blum duly left his chair, yet instead of changing the call, picked out a completely different mark in the clay and decided against the Briton.
Set-point to Martin, duly converted. One set-all and bubbling frustration for Henman. Hands on hips, unable to comprehend the incompetence of the Australian official.
'What's your name? Have you ever done a main match before?' asked our Tim, before embarking on a flurry of breathtaking shots and surging through the third set in just 32 minutes. Given that the two previous sets had taken a combined 2hr 11min, it was easy to understand Henman's state of anxiety Even then the controversy was not finished. Midway through the fourth set it was Henman's turn to see a serve land out. Down stepped Blum off his high chair once more and wrongly amended the call to Martin's detriment.
Cue the dry sense of humour for which the giant American is known. Martin said: ' That is incredible, although granted his (Henman's) ball is more in than mine was. But I appreciate the setpoint call.' From that point on the pair played out the match as a comedy double act, with Blum fulfilling the role of stooge, the butt of all their derision.
At one point Henman even called the umpire over before scrubbing the mark out with his foot just as Blum arrived. Up went Martin's arms, as well as his thumb in appreciation of the joke, while Court 3 exploded into raucous laughter.
Henman said: 'The thing the players want is consistency. I just don't think that on a clay court umpires should make mistakes because there are clear marks for everybody to see.' The high jinks should not detract from the standard of Henman's play throughout a barnstorming match - lasting 3hr 27min - which drew a well-deserved standing ovation from those crammed into the most intimate of the show courts at Roland Garros. …