HENMAN ON THE MARCH IN MELBOURNE; TENNIS: Britain's Number One Moves to the Third Round of the Australian Open Rainer's Injury Is a Tonic for Tim
Garrod, Mark, Birmingham Evening Mail (England)
TIM Henman is through to the last 32 of the Australian Open in Melbourne.
A stomach muscle injury forced second-round opponent Rainer Schuttler to quit after less than an hour's play today.
First troubled earlier this month, the 23-year-old German lost the opening set 6-2 and, after receiving treatment, decided at 4-1 down in the second that he could not continue.
Eleventh seed Henman next plays France's Sebastian Grosjean, whom he beat in four sets en route to the Wimbledon semi-finals last summer.
He is already left to fly the British flag on his own, however. Qualifier Julie Pullin, from Hove, went out 6-3 2-6 9-7 to Chinese player Yi Jing-qian - after holding a match point at 6-5 in the marathon final set.
Henman, who had lost two of his previous clashes with Schuttler, said: "It's unfortunate for him and not the ideal way to get through, but I'm not going to complain.
"When he served his first serve of the match at 128kmh (only two-thirds normal speed) I wasn't quite sure whether he'd got some new plan for me or whether there was something else that wasn't quite right.
"That's professional sport. You are going to get injuries, and sometimes people try to play through - but the stomach is a very difficult one."
As well as breaking in the third and seventh games of the first set, Henman dropped only two points on his own serve.
He took Schuttler's serve in the third game of the second set as well - after first missing nine break points - and when the German netted a high backhand volley to fall 4-1 down he called it a day.
"From the sidelines it looks pretty easy if the guy is not serving hard," added Henman, still on course for a quarter-final with Pete Sampras next week.
"But sometimes you get a bit cautious - and if you get off to a bad start and he gets confident he can make life difficult for you.
"Once I was up a set and got an early break it was on my mind that he may pull out, but you're never sure until it actually happens. It is best if you concentrate on every point and try to give him as little as possible."
The bonus of the retirement was that it gave Henman the chance to further rest before the harder battles to come.
"After my first match (a three-and-a-half-hour four-set win over Frenchman Jerome Golmard) I was a little bit sore and I still feel a little bit stiff.
"But I'm sure that come Friday I will be 100% fresh. Grosjean's going to be a very tough opponent - he's got loads of ability and is a dangerous player.
"I felt I was continuing where I left off against Golmard, especially on my serve, but it's going to get tougher and tougher.
"I've played better tennis before, but it's the overall improvement from the end of last year that I'm pleased about and want to continue."
Favourites Andre Agassi and Sampras, meanwhile, had their second successive straight-sets wins - Agassi over Dutchman Sjeng Schalken and Sampras over Swede Mikael Tillstrom - but Sampras afterwards described the speed of the courts and balls as "ridiculous."
There were more seeded casualties. Five men's seeds failed to make the second round, and eighth seed Todd Martin and ninth seed Richard Krajicek have now joined them on the sidelines.
Martin lost 7-5 in the final set to Spaniard Fernando Vicente and 1996 Wimbledon champion Krajicek in four to Nicolas Escude, the Frenchman who thrashed Henman in Adelaide two weeks ago.
For Pullin it was a really agonising defeat, robbing her of a chance to make a name for herself - and British women's tennis - against former star Jennifer Capriati, conqueror today of 14th seed Dominique Van Roost.
Ranked 174th in the world to Yi's 137th, she had won their only previous match in 1997 and had a great opportunity to repeat that on a much bigger stage. …